Columns International Leaders & Institutions Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

The pope sends in the cavalry to rescue himself

A man is detained during a protest against Pope Francis, in Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 16, 2018. Francis arrived in Chile's capital Monday night for a visit that was met with protests over sexual abuse by priests. Many Chileans are furious over Francis' 2015 decision to appoint a bishop close to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of abusing dozens of minors over decades. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

The best news to come out of the Vatican since Pope Francis botched his trip to Chile is that Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna has been dispatched to investigate. Scicluna is Rome’s go-to guy when it comes to dealing seriously with sex abuse in the Church’s upper reaches.

He compiled the case against Marcial Maciel Degollado, the predatory founder of the Legionaries of Christ, that resulted in Maciel’s dismissal by Pope Benedict in 2005. Under Pope Francis, he took the testimony against Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien—who had resigned as archbishop of Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting to sexual misconduct—that led to O’Brien’s renunciation of all “duties and privileges” associated with being a cardinal.

The case in Chile involves not an abuser but a bishop who stands accused of witnessing abuse and doing nothing about it.

Juan Barros Madrid was a follower of Francisco Karadima, a charismatic priest whom the Vatican defrocked in 2011 for abusing teenagers during the 1980s and 1990s. Despite accusations by several of Karadima’s victims that Barros had been present for some of the abuse, Francis went ahead and appointed him bishop of the southern Chilean city of Osorno in 2015—and twice refused to accept Barros’ subsequent offers to resign.

The case festered, and Francis’ trip to Chile was widely seen as his opportunity to right a wrong. Instead, he celebrated Mass with Barros and called the charges against him “calumny.”

The comment provoked outrage and in his in-flight press conference on the way back to Rome Francis apologized for making it—but insisted that he believed in Barros’ innocence nevertheless. His determination to ignore credible evidence has baffled even his staunchest supporters.

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, Francisista Michael Sean Winters wrote, “I am gobsmacked that the pope twice declined to accept the bishop’s resignation.”

In the course of the now three-decade-old abuse scandal, a few bishops have left their sees under the cloud of cover-up. The late Cardinal Archbishop of Boston Bernard Law did—with the ecclesial equivalent of a golden parachute. Sans parachute, so did Bishop Robert Flynn of Kansas City and Archbishops John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis and John J. Myers of Newark.

But in none of these cases did the Vatican say why prelate had to go. And that’s not good enough.

It’s not good enough because it fails to give victims their due. It’s not good enough because it fails to send a clear and distinct signal to the rest of the episcopal hierarchy that covering up abuse will not be tolerated.

Unless and until a pope says that he has removed a bishop from office for failing to deal properly with a case of sexual abuse, the Church will never be able to put the abuse scandal behind it.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s top sex crimes expert, meets journalists in Rome on Feb. 8, 2012. The Vatican said Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, that Maltese Bishop Scicluna would travel to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Bishop Juan Barros, accused by abuse victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

At his press conference, the Pope said, “If a person arrives and gives me evidence, I will be the first to listen to them.” There is every reason to expect that Scicluna will arrive and give evidence. Then it will be up to Francis to listen—and act.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


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  • Too little, too late. Catholicism and the rest of Christianity have been on the slippery sloop of complete collapse since the publication of studies using rigorous historic testing of the NT. Said studies have concluded that there was no Easter and that less than 30% of the NT is authentic.

  • “Then it will be up to Francis to listen – and act.”

    Francis has shown us over and over again that he is totally committed to following up talk with more talk.

  • As a successful local estate agent (realtor?) once said to me. “We run a very moral business – but we don’t let that interfere with making a profit”.

  • You really are a one-trick pony, aren’t you? No matter the topic, you’re going to find some way to work your supposed “rigorous historic testing of the NT” in there.

    Comes across as just a tad obsessive. Reminds me of Dustin Hoffman in ‘Rain Man. “I’m definitely an excellent driver. Definitely.” “Wapner in three minutes…”

    Rigorous historic testing. Definitely rigorous. Definitely less than 30%…

  • Just shows how easy it is to discount all religions and it needs to be hammered home to catch up with the guilt trips thrown at us for thousands of years. Skip the following if you have seen it before. Scroll bars are an amazing invention:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten
    seconds: Priceless !!!

    As far as one knows or can
    tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    As far as one knows or can
    tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    There was no Gabriel i.e.
    Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    There was no Easter i.e.
    Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    There was no Moroni i.e.
    Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    Sacred/revered cows, monkey
    gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    Fat Buddhas here, skinny
    Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on

    A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups
    calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally,
    Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early
    philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely
    different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Good news! Franky has enough evidence to reassign the erant clergy to a new place where no one knows of his guilt. Or, if he is extra creepy be might get appointed to position in which he can decide the new place for other rapists.

  • To enhance your hobby, I recommend perusing the following. Get back to us when you finish:

    1. Historical Jesus Theories, – the names of many of the
    contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books
    on the subject.

    Early Christian Writings,

    – a list of early Christian documents to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative

    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q

    50-60 1 Thessalonians

    50-60 Philippians

    50-60 Galatians

    50-60 1 Corinthians

    50-60 2 Corinthians

    50-60 Romans

    50-60 Philemon

    50-80 Colossians

    50-90 Signs Gospel

    50-95 Book of Hebrews

    50-120 Didache

    50-140 Gospel of Thomas

    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel

    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ

    65-80 Gospel of Mark

    70-100 Epistle of James

    70-120 Egerton Gospel

    70-160 Gospel of Peter

    70-160 Secret Mark

    70-200 Fayyum Fragment

    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion

    80-100 2 Thessalonians

    80-100 Ephesians

    80-100 Gospel of Matthew

    80-110 1 Peter

    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas

    80-130 Gospel of Luke

    80-130 Acts of the Apostles

    80-140 1 Clement

    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians

    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews

    80-250 Christian Sibyllines

    90-95 Apocalypse of John

    90-120 Gospel of John

    90-120 1 John

    90-120 2 John

    90-120 3 John

    90-120 Epistle of Jude

    93 Flavius Josephus

    100-150 1 Timothy

    100-150 2 Timothy

    100-150 T-itus

    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter

    100-150 Secret Book of James

    100-150 Preaching of Peter

    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites

    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans

    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas

    100-160 2 Peter

    4. Jesus Database,
    http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –”The JESUS DATABASE is an
    online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings
    of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era.
    It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to
    the traditions found within the Christian New Testament.”

    5. Josephus on Jesus

    6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

    – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT

    8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman,
    Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

    9.The Gnostic Jesus

    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)

    by Douglas Gro-othuis:

    10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical

    Presented on March 18, 1994

    11. The Jesus Database- newer site:


    12. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:


    13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

    13. Historical Jesus Studies

    14. The Greek New Testament:

    15. D-iseases in the Bible:

    16. Religion on- Line (6000 a-rt-ic-les on the
    hi-story of religion, churches, theologies,

    theologians, eth-ics, etc. religion-online.o–rg/

    The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT

    Writing the New Testament- e-xi-sting copies, o–r–al tradition etc.

    19. JD Crossan’s c-onclusions about the
    a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other
    NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:


    20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books
    by t-itle with the complete translated work in English

    21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?


    22. NT and beyond time line:


    23. St. Paul’s Time line with discussion of
    important events:

    24. See for a list of JD
    Crossan’s books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books
    are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be
    found on-line at Google Books.

    25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx’s words of wisdom
    as found in his books.

    27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd
    Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and
    Bishop NT Wright.

    28. Father Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY,
    1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

    29. Luke Timothy Johnson’s book The Real Jesus

    Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical
    Argument for Jesus of Nazareth [Hardcover]

    Bart D. Ehrman (Author)

    Large numbers of atheists, humanists, and conspiracy
    theorists are raising one of the most pressing questions in the history of
    religion: “Did Jesus exist at all?” Was he invented out of whole
    cloth for nefarious purposes by those seeking to control the masses? Or was
    Jesus such a shadowy figure—far removed from any credible historical
    evidence—that he bears no meaningful resemblance to the person described in the

    In Did Jesus Exist? historian and Bible
    expert Bart Ehrman confronts these questions, vigorously defends the
    historicity of Jesus, and provides a compelling portrait of the man from
    Nazareth. The Jesus you discover here may not be the Jesus you had hoped to
    meet—but he did exist, whether we like it or not.


    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi
    Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi————–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish-
    simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion
    lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a
    collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the
    essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related
    Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran
    and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    “1. Belief in Allah”

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature,
    etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    “2. To believe that everything other than Allah
    was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and
    subsequently they came into existence.”

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gib
    G-nab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the
    “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a

    “3. To believe in the existence of

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils
    are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hittites, to
    explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden
    winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ug-ly wingy
    thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe
    Smith. Today we would classify angels as fairies and “tinker
    be-lls”. Modern devils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    “4. To believe that all the heavenly books that
    were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran,
    all other books are not valid anymore.”

    Another major item to delete. There are no books
    written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no
    angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply
    books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically
    to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the
    natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    “5. To believe that all the prophets are true.
    However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone.”

    Mohammed spent thirty days “fasting” (the
    Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc.
    via a “pretty wingy thingy”. Common sense demands a neuron deletion
    of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed’s
    “fast, hunger-driven” hallu-cinations into horrible reality for

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog
    so the “two-minute” cure is not getting to those who need it. If you
    have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

  • I live in Chile. I live in the Osorno Diocese. I have met Bp Barros.

    This is not about Bp Barros. This whole thing is a distraction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It is about the communists (think Democrat but in Spanish) who are playing their hand here in Chile.

    Yes I know the Our Holy Father Pope Francis is a communist of the most merciful level, but the commies here in Chile did not get the memo. They challenged his communists authority! Did you not see it in his face and hear it in his voice?

    What is missing in this report is that Bp Barros was made a Bishop in 1995 by JPII. The move to Osorno was a lateral move nothing more!

    SO Any Bishop would have been demonstrated against by the commies here. Just the way it is.

    Long after Bp Barros and Our Most Holy Father Pope Francis are long dead these same people will be demonstrating against the Catholic Church in Chile. It is that simple.

    Did Bp Barros do what is claimed? Only he and God know.
    At this point the victims are PAWNS!

    Will the Communists continue to burn down their neighbors Churches either way? YES! Is this not a kind and loving way to treat your neighbors? Can’t You feel the love?
    So stupid sick, evil, child molesting, satanic guided Priest commits a crime that is truly evil! So LETS GO BURN DOWN THE CHURCH?????????????? Oh yeah that is a perfect response… I do not think so……….

    Remember all but one of Christs disciples betrayed him Unto Death, but did that mean Christ Church the Catholic Church is just as bad? No. Just some (right now quite a few) people who lead it were not good. He threw out a net and caught all of humanity. Some good and some bad.

    Remember this is not Pope Francis’s Church or Bp Barros’s Church it is CHRIST’S CHURCH. The Catholic Church. Started and Founded by Christ. The Churches that are being demonstrated against are our Churches built by hard working and praying Catholic Chileans (many who struggle to pay their bills like all people). Not the people demonstrating in the Cathedral in Osorno on TV wearing black.

    Has Our Holy and Merciful Pope Francis handled this poorly?

  • It concerns me that Scicluna may be fine at ferreting out the story when a priest or bishop has actually committed sexual abuse. But, this is a case of a bishop who ignored abuse going on around him with not actually being an abuser. It concerns me that Scicluna may not be able to “see” the evil that is done when someone witnesses abuse and remains silent. It is certainly of concern when it was not the job of Barros when he witnessed abuse to do anything, say anything, take any action. In the highly structured world of the Catholic church hierarchy, any speaking up or acting would have been up to Karadima’s bishop at the time.

    We need a moral standard that says a staying silent in the face of abhorrent behavior is also a crime and a sin. Let those who say Barros saw the abuse have their say. And let Francis weigh moral responsibility, human responsibility in the face of abuse of children. Silence and doing nothing doesn’t cut it, is not the behavior of someone who is to be a leader of followers of Jesus.

  • How about we have a law that requires the reporting of suspected abuse, with severe criminal liability if it is shown without a doubt that the abuse occurred AND that the other person knew about it.

    It is most assuredly NOT a church matter if a crime occurs.

  • That is true, alwayspuzzled, and lately he’s been getting a lot of coverage by the press, droning on and on about who-knows-what and who cares?? What is the purpose of the so-called papacy, anyway? Anyone? ?

  • The thing is, Ben, these vile pedophiles and their scuzzy enablers hide behind the so-called ” Seal of Confession”, a cloak of criminality if there ever was one! When you get a chance, look up the Australian archbishop who flatly stated that he would NOT give up one of his priest child molesters to the police once he, the priest, went to confession!! I wanted to gag; there is NOTHING Roman Catholicism can EVER tell me about its so-called “moral authority” ; its the WORST, man-centered religious system that has ever been foisted on humanity!!! UGH! ???

  • Seriously, dude? You’ve got WAAAY too much on your hands, my friend…come on up out of mom’s basement(slooowly), take a deep breath and enjoy Almighty God’s Creation for a minute, O.K.? Good boy…???

  • I’m not sure if it is absolutely the worst, but it has certainly been in there trying. I see it as a problem of corruption, and this corruption is not unique to the Church of Rome. I define corruption as “becoming that which you hate.” The means to their corruption was the power and money they have accrued and exercised for centuries.

    They got used to that when they were pretty much the whole show. They have elevated the church above their humanity. What kind of slime would molest a child? But worse, to my mind, are the ones that can’t even ask that question, but see the reputation of the church as of greater importance. They have elevated their faith above common decency.

    But the greater problem STILL is the one I see constantly. People elevating themselves to godhood. And that is what that Australian bishop has done. A friend of mine left the priesthood because he saw as a constant the elevation of belief over decency. He was particularly incensed over an archbishop excusing a priest with, “well, he sinned. He confessed. Now he is in penitence, and will not do this again.” Until he did, because being a molester has nothing to do with faith or pentitence.

  • The only legitimate purpose for the pope and his men is what Jesus told his apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20)

  • So you don’t think “We (have) a moral standard that says a staying silent in the face of abhorrent behavior is also a crime and a sin”?

  • Bob, the Catholic Church has bishops (from all over the world, it appears) who knew of child sex abuse and kept it hidden from legal civil authorities and from parishioners and local priests and teachers with whom that (known or suspected) pedophile would be working. I think that bishops and others who knew and kept silent did lack moral fiber to stand up for the most vulnerable of us, our children.

    If there is a standard that such silence is a sin and a crime, it doesn’t seem to be applied to bishops or the religious institution – just to the non clergy/lay/powerless. Well, maybe child sex abuse is treated as a sin – say three Hail Mary’s and promise not to do that again. But child sex abuse as a crime within a faith family – what is the punishment? A person who divorces/remarries without permission is forbidden the sacraments. A gay person who marries and lives with his/her spouse, is fired from any kind of church job and could be denied the sacraments. But a priest who abused a child or a bishop who knew about it and covered it up – say three Hail Mary’s and prepare your sermon for tomorrow’s Mass. Oh, the priest may be kicked out for committing child abuse, but the bishop who knew and remained silent faces no consequences.

    So, yeah, it doesn’t appear that the silence of bishops matters very much as a moral issue to the Catholic church hierarchy.

  • This doesn’t have to be about the seal of confession. It has been admitted by bishops and shown in documents that knowledge of actual or suspected abuse was received from teachers, parents, or the abused him/herself. When the information is received outside the confession, there is still the problem of the canon laws and a moto proprio that apply papal secrecy to any investigation of such information. There is also the problem that unless local laws require a bishop to report allegations of child sex abuse, the bishop is actually forbidden to do so. Several national bishops conferences tried to have rules that required reporting, only to have the CDF forbid it.

    I also think some consideration needs to be given to requiring someone who confesses to child sex abuse to make restitution to the person abused and, perhaps, to society for the offense committed. There is, or was at one time, a requirement written into the confession “rules” that someone who admitted to falsely accusing a priest was to be given a penance that included publicly acknowledging the penitent had lied in order to restore the good name of the priest. Forgiveness was withheld until the penance was completed. So, I think some thought could be given to requiring restitution as a part of the penance of someone who confesses to sex abuse.

  • There are over 5,000 bishops in the Catholic Church.

    Have you calculated what percentage were accused of hiding abuse?

    It works out to around 1.5%, and less than that if disproven allegations are taken out.

    That’s better odds than Jesus had with his apostles.

    It also does not support that the silence of bishops doesn’t matter very much as a moral issue to the Catholic church hierarchy.

  • When the information is received outside confession, Canon Law requires that the authorities be informed if the information is credible.

    There is no moto proprio (sic) that applies papal secrecy to any investigation of such information.

    What the CDF has forbidden is any violation of the seal of confession.

  • Well, I hate to tell you, Betty, but they’ve been utter, miserable failures at that, throughout history. They’ve been successful in propagating the man-centered religious system known as Roman Catholicism, but as I constantly remind people: Our Savior didn’t invite people to an “-ism”; He invited us to HIMSELF, all throughout the Gospels, and He still issues that invitation. Roman Catholicism has been one of the worst religious systems ever foisted upon humanity, and it still is. Don’t get me wrong here; admittedly individual Catholics and those sometimes working in tandem with their co-religionists have accomplished much good throughout the centuries, and thank God for them. But the system as a whole as wreaked havoc and destruction almost everywhere its established itself, and many a vanished culture and more than a few individuals can attest to that. So…there it is. From my perspective, the man-made religious institution known as Roman Catholicism has NOTHING to recommend itself. And that’s my take on it, Betty. Peace in Christ to you. ☺

  • That’s a bogus, illegitimate interpretation foisted upon the text, Jose; it’s known in Biblical hermeneutics as eisegesis (Look it up), and sadly, Roman Catholics have been stuck with this man-centered religious system every since they allowed themselves to accept that interpretation. Jesus the Christ has been absent from the center of the Roman Catholic Church almost from its inception; HE is not the rightful Head of that institution, the Pope is; and the results of that choice has been evident throughout the millennia. Mull and Reflect, my friend. Speaking only for myself, the so-called papacy and the pope serve no useful purpose whatsoever, certainly not in this day and age. Peace. ?

  • Well, I haven’t added them up. But take a look at what was discovered in Ireland and Australia regarding what bishops knew about abuse and what they did about it. Of these bishops who have been revealed to have covered up sex abuse by priests, which ones have been censored, stood down, dealt with by the Catholic Church. Any from Ireland or Australia? How about Bernard Law or Mahoney from the U.S.?

    I think what we don’t know is how widespread the cover-up was. When there is a new priest sex abuse scandal in some country, try Chile, what does the Church do to even try to find out which bishops covered up abuse? Nothing? We never hear about a systematic national Church sponsored investigation of the coverup – it is all secret if it has occurred at all.

    The fact that we don’t know if a bishop covered up doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. More than likely, the Church never investigated it because a cover-up was required by pontifical secrecy. What we do know is where there is vigorous civil investigation, bishops don’t come out looking innocent and the Church does nothing for past abuse. Most important it would seem to me would be to defrock them, to show that even a bishop can go too far. A priest can be defrocked but evidently not a bishop – I don’t understand that.

    Admittedly, three bishops have been at least removed from being bishops of a diocese here because civil charges were brought or threatened. But that is it. They were not defrocked or sent to a life of prayer and penance. They are still allowed to “serve”, they retain their titles. All across the U.S. thousands of children and young people were abused – and bishops by and large were never held accountable by the Church.

  • No. When information is received outside the confession, Canon Law does NOT require that the authorities be informed, unless by “the authorities” you mean the CDF. Canon Law only requires that civil public justice authorities be informed if civil law requires it. And, in most states and jurisdictions, bishops and priests are not mandated reporters.

    You need to read the Motu Proprio “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” (MP SST) of 30 April 2001 and revisions made to the Motu Proprio in 2010. Pay attention to this section: “The maintenance of secrecy for these crimes is imposed by Article 25 of Pope John Paul II’s motu proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela of 2001 and by Article 30 of its revision by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, which impose the pontifical secret on all allegations and proceedings relating to child sexual abuse by clerics. The footnotes to Article 25 and Article 30 apply Article 1(4) of Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere, which defines the pontifical secret as the church’s highest form of secrecy, and like the secret of the confessional, is a permanent silence.”

    The quote is from an article by Kieran Tapsell, who wrote “Potiphar’s Wife”. The article can be found here:

    Or for something more comprehensive on what the Church can do to address the sex abuse scandal, using the results from the recently ended Australian Royal Commission investigation, read: KIERAN TAPSELL. “Catastrophic institutional failure” can be fixed, a Jan 12 2018 essay on the John Menandue blog “Pearl and Irritations” which can be found here:

    It is absolutely not correct to say that Canon Law requires bishops to inform civil authorities of suspected or “credible” sex abuse they learn of outside the confessional.

  • And thank you for demonstrating my point better than I could. Child molesters get a free pass because they “confess”. The church has been doing that for centuries.

  • There are plenty of people willing to excuse the church is 1000 known years of sexual offenses against children.

  • I have never encountered a church which committed a sexual offense, or any offense, against anyone.

    Are you sure you’re nothing thinking of members of churches?

  • Well, I have added them up.

    The real problem, as Maloney and Law illustrated, was NOT complying with Canon Law. Canon Law required excluding those with inherent uncontrollable urges from ordination. Neither of these bishops did that diligently. Instead they got sold a bill of goods from the field of psychology, primarily the so-called “experts” at St. Luke’s in Silver Spring, MD, that these urges could be “treated” and the subjects “cured”.

    Then, of course, we had the Pink Mafia such as Rembert Weakland actively undermining Canon Law.

    When you write “The fact that we don’t know if a bishop covered up doesn’t mean it didn’t happen”, I hear echoes of Joe McCarthy from the 1950s. An accusation is as good as a conviction; better, actually, because it requires less work than proof.

    There is an old Roman legal maxim: “Hard cases make bad law”.

    The laws already extant are fine, as the dioceses with zero problems demonstrated.

    As to “they still retain their titles” – once a bishop, always a bishop.

    Interestingly you apparently wish the harshest sort of crackdown on even accused in this circumstance, but in other circumstances that might affect you personally you laud Francis’ laxity. It should dawn on you that his laxity cuts across the board, and seeing it in this circumstance where laxity led to the problems explains what the probable effect will be in the areas you think it to be swell.

    What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or treat others as you would like to be treated.

  • I am beginning to see the sources of your misunderstandings.

    You are relying on the folks over at “Bishop Accountability”

    and the National “Catholic” Reporter

    for both the facts and their interpretation.

    Neither is an exactly unbiased source of information.

    Here is layman’s walk through the Canon Law on the topic:


    It is important to note that every bishop and every priest is required to follow the applicable civil law at every step of the way, including reporting crimes to the proper authorities. The fact that some bishops who, as Ms. Caridi points out in her articles think they ARE Canon Law, failed to do that resulted in the Essential Norms spelling it out and emphasizing it, although Canon Law already required it.

    As to “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela”

    As this document makes clear again “Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.”

    Your sources misrepresent, apparently on purpose, the secrecy surrounding the judicial proceedings under Canon Law as pertaining as well to civil law.

    That is simply false, period.

  • Only he, God, and the people who saw him, you mean. See, that’s equally true of any crime. If that’s a reason not to investigate, we may as well disband the police force.

    Nice slander of the victims.

  • Would I be correct in assuming that you are not in Osorno or Chile? That you have likely never been to Chile?

    Very hurtful that you assume that I am slandering the victims. Especially having been abused myself as a teen. I have deep sorrow for those who were abused. That does not justify more abuse! Having suffered great loss and great abuse myself, there is a point where people must get up in the morning and keep living. To stop being the victim.

    I think what is important is the you realize that you are not totally aware of the whole story. This was the total point of my original comment.

    This is whole faced apparent by your comment that centers in on only the victims of the abuse and not the additional victims of the communist’s continued abuse,,,,, of the Catholic Lay people of Osorno.

    Nice slander of ME.

  • Dude, you not only discount the victims by calling them pawns and questioning their motives, but you LITERALLY erase them when you say “only the bishop and God know” if the VICTIMS’ allegations are true. The victims were there, too. They know. When you and the pope pretend that eyewitness testimony either doesn’t exist or isn’t really evidence, you are lying.

    I’m sorry you were hurt. But neither that nor your political opinions give you license to erase and insult the victims and witnesses.

  • And thank you for demonstrating my point better than I could. It’s all about privacy and freedom, unless it involves religion, and then it’s draconian laws and strict enforcement.

    At least you know who you hate.

  • Ok now I am questioning your motives. I have never questioned theirs. This is not about them. I am not pretending anything.


    You are ignorant to the politics here and the politics of this specific situation. This is all that I am saying.
    I am not siding against the victims or with Our Most Merciful Holy Father and Pope Francis the communist!

    I am siding with the Catholics here who are having their Churches burned down by a bunch of communists, and you think that this is political license? If you think that people being murdered by communists are just political license then you and I have nothing left to say.

  • You right wingers must always make up stuff about people who disagree with you, but when we disagree with you, you immediately label it hate.

    I absolutely support your right to worship and believe what you wish. I do not support your right to impose on me in the pubic square. Pretty clear.

  • The public square, the open debate which we use to arrive at political decisions, doesn’t appear to impose on you.

    To the contrary, you propose walling off entire portions of the open debate to people who enter it with religious beliefs.

    Of course, natural law is not per se a religious belief, so either way you’re wrong.

  • Well, maybe there were some who should not have been ordained in the first place. But, why were bishops not able to get rid of the priests once they proved to be unsuitable for the priesthood? And, why didn’t the bishops turn the matter over to the police? Why?

    You say they were duped by psychologists and I say – what about the children? As a parent, I am appalled that the bishops didn’t first consider the children, didn’t reach out to help the child and the family deal with the abuse. And, secondly, when it kept happening, don’t you think they would start to realize that they needed to get rid of the priest? Some very few did and some who tried lost their cases to decisions of Vatican dicasteries. And, again, why didn’t they call the police?

    I don’t wish the harshest crack down on every one accused. But, I do believe that Bernard Law deserved to have some punishment, some signal from the Vatican that the fact that he moved around sex abusing priests for years actually mattered in his performance as a bishop/cardinal. It obviously didn’t matter because he was rewarded with a plumb new title in the Vatican and kept on serving in various roles, including in choosing new bishops and in electing new popes. And Mahoney. And bishops in Ireland and Australia and Canada? Any of them actually face consequences within the Roman Catholic Church for hiding child sex abuse?

    The Pope would stand down a bishop/cardinal who carried on flagrant sexual affairs (well, maybe, if he was willing to even listen, as JPII was NOT willing to listen to reports of Maciel.) Or a bishop who terribly mismanages money – the German Bishop of Bling story. But even the Scottish cardinal who was found to have inappropriate sexual relationships with seminarians, was allowed to retire but he kept his titles.

    When/what is bad enough that a bishop or cardinal actually loses his title, loses a right to dress as a “prince” of the church. Evidently hiding sex abusing priests is not enough of a fault. But what is?

    Do you think there is any punishment shown, any consequence visited by the Church on a bishop/cardinal who hid child sex abuse? Should there be now? So far, we have seen Pope Francis willing to act against two U.S. bishops who ran into civil law problems. Is that the only kind of measure the Church has for judging the performance of a bishop? The bishop/cardinal is innocent unless civil law finds him guilty because the Catholic Church has no higher standard by which to judge?

  • You are simply wrong. You are using sources that don’t have all the details down correctly. I am not going to go point by point with you. I suggest you read Potiphar’s Wife, search out what has been said by Kieran Tapsell in many interviews and articles. I also suggest you read the actual transcripts of investigations by the Australian Royal Commission and the various inquiries in Ireland. If there was confusion about what Canon Law allowed or required, it was world wide and amazingly consistent. And, even now, today, a bishop is not allowed to report a suspicion of child sex abuse by a priest unless civil law requires him to do so. Carefully read what is stated in the motu proprio – it only specifies reporting when required to by civil law. The UN tried to get the Vatican to agree to reporting all cases to police anywhere in the world and the Vatican declined. Not even the bishops in Italy report suspected cases of child sex abuse to the Italian police because they are not required to by the concordat between the Italian government and the Vatican.

    Bishops do not routinely report suspected cases of child sex abuse to police. They simply do not do it. Read transcripts of actual investigations. Read them. They didn’t do it and they still don’t do it unless required by local law. Both Australia and the U.S. tried to get an exemption from the Vatican to report all suspected cases of such abuse to the police and both were turned down and only allowed to report cases where the local or national laws require it.

  • “You are simply wrong.” does not constitute an argument.

    “You are using sources that don’t have all the details down correctly.” seems an odd comment when I actually cited the very documents. Would you feel better if I cited them in Latin? Do YOU have any documents?

    Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Accountability, Voice of the Faithful, if this sort of stuff constitutes your sources, you’ve been propagandized.

    Yes, the motu proprio requires conformance to civil law. Are you aware of any country where the civil law does NOT require reporting abuse?

    The statement “Both Australia and the U.S. tried to get an exemption from the Vatican to report all suspected cases of such abuse to the police and both were turned down and only allowed to report cases where the local or national laws require it” is confused at best.

    Every accused, clerical or otherwise, begins with the presumption of innocence. In addition the ecclesial investigation is NOT a criminal investigation, and it follows different rules of evidence.

    However, both Canon Law and the guidelines in the USA REQUIRE reporting abuse.

    No, the UN did not try to get the Vatican to agree to reporting all cases to police anywhere in the world and the Vatican declined. An 18-member panel which monitors implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopting recommendations of pro-abortion anti-Catholic NGOs such as Planned Parenthood, issued a report – which its mandate neither called for nor permitted – urging the Holy See to make access to information about contraception, abortion, and a laundry list of other goals of the NGOs mandatory in Catholic schools. It threw in the wild suggestion that the Holy See override local law and the bishops, dispensing with due process and opening its dioceses to lawsuits. It included criticism of church teachings on homosexuality, gender equality and abortion.

    Basically it demanded that the Catholic Church become Anglicans with draconian control over bishops all over the world.

    It was a publicity stunt.

    As to “Bishops do not routinely report suspected cases of child sex abuse to police”, the Holy See pointed out – and the process in the US is typical – that it has taken additional steps to ensure that every bishop properly report abuse, which WAS REQUIRED UNDER CANON LAW before, and which has been reemphasized in the plainest possible terms.

    I’ll be happy to entertain actual documents, citations to verifiable sources, and so on if you wish to present them.

    However, Kieran Tapsell (the Australian version of Thomas P Doyle), National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Accountability, Voice of the Faithful, and so on all have axes to grind, darned little knowledge, and are not reliable at all. The Poles have a saying “He who lays down with dogs gets up with fleas”, and that about summarizes relying on those “sources”.

  • How would you know which bishops have been disciplined and what the discipline was that was meted out?

    Every member of the Church, from the lad or lass in the pew to the Holy Father and everyone in between, is assumed innocent until proven guilty. That is baked into Canon Law as firmly, or more firmly, than it is in American law.

  • Re: “Unless and until a pope says that he has removed a bishop from office for failing to deal properly with a case of sexual abuse, the Church will never be able to put the abuse scandal behind it.”  

    Actually it would take more, even, than that. Although what it would take is really a rather small thing. The Pope would have to order all abusive clergy to turn themselves into the authorities, confess their crime(s), and accept sentences for them. And he’d have to order hierarchs who protected them in any way to turn themselves in for their complicity in any abuse that took place on their watch, likewise confessing their crime(s) and accepting their sentences.  

    The Pope could do that easily and in a heartbeat, and due to their vows of obedience, they would all have to comply. I’m also sure many wouldn’t want to comply, though, and probably wouldn’t do so … but the issuance of such an order would, itself, make clear the Church’s position on the matter and would — at least ostensibly — constitute an effort to come clean about it.  

  • I think we should pray for that to Happen.

    Back in the early 90¡s, JPII was deploring the upcoming gulf war in the strongest possible terms. I wrote a letter to the paper, saying that if he were actually serious about it, he would take a helicopter, fly it in between the two armies, and demand that they negotiate. The letter got published, but it didn’t happen any way.