What if it’s Saint Bad Apple?
A news item of particular revulsion — or amusement, depending on your sense of humor — came from Pharyngula today. In 1996, in response to the growing pedophilia scandal, Ireland’s catholic bishops decided to begin helping the police. And in 1997, a newly revealed letter shows that Pope John Paul put the kibosh on that policy.
The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.
Signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, the letter instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.”
Storero wrote that canon law, which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church, “must be meticulously followed.” Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the “highly embarrassing” position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, he wrote.
And, yes, of course, the Vatican is directly linked to more pedophilia by overturning the locals, by its insistence that the church should handle such crimes rather than civil, secular authorities.
Storero warned that bishops who followed the Irish child-protection policy and reported a priest’s suspected crimes to police risked having their in-house punishments of the priest overturned by the Congregation for the Clergy.
The 2009 Dublin Archdiocese report found that this actually happened in the case of Tony Walsh, one of Dublin’s most notorious pedophiles, who used his role as an Elvis impersonator in a popular “All Priests Show” to get closer to kids.
Walsh was kicked out of the priesthood by a secret Dublin church court in 1993 but successfully appealed the punishment to a Vatican court, which reinstated him to the priesthood in 1994. He raped a boy in a pub restroom at his grandfather’s wake that year. Walsh since has received a series of prison sentences, most recently a 12-year term imposed last month. Investigators estimate he raped or molested more than 100 children.
Although that particular incident took place before the 1997 letter, it does show a pattern. One might wonder if this revelation will affect the swift campaign to make the old pope into a saint. One might; but I don’t. I expect this to be adroitly ignored, and the campaign will continue apace.
JP2’s beatification, if it proceeds as scheduled, will have been the fastest on record — six years, from death to finish, edging out the previous record holder, Mother Teresa, by just a few days.
Record holder — sounds like sports talk fitting of the Onion SportsDome. If there was one thing John Paul learned during his tenure, it was that the people sure like new saints. It seemed to turn into a marketing strategy. He sped up the process, and Benedict has chosen to return the favor, I guess.
This is the church I left, the church that most of my family is still a part of. I know, catholics, I have heard the plethora of excuses; that the church leadership doesn’t affect or define you, that your church or your priest isn’t like that — it’s sort of like loving your Congressperson while hating Congress, eh? Oleaginous prattle. The money catholics put in the collection plate, and the allegiance they offer, that buys influence for those higher-ups, those ‘bad apples’ as the saying goes. Like it or not, the rank and file support these bastards with their donations, with their connection to the church.
And the Vatican will go on taking its cut from the collection plate, so long as catholics are silent and continue to donate. And you’ll soon have a saint who was party to hiding the church’s crimes from its adherents; a saint willing to reinstate child molesters, to overturn churches trying to protect congregations and seek justice. Like PZ, it brings forth a sense of warped amusement for me.
Is that basically saying that if locals do anything other than work with the Vatican to quarantine child-rapers, the Vatican will do whatever they can to put the rapist right back into his position? Sweet. They really don’t care at all about their congregations, do they?