Australian Q&A on legal accountability and the Catholic Church

“What Benedict Knew”

WI Senate frontrunner opposed bill that would have eased justice for sex abuse victims

Via TPM:

Ron Johnson, the businessman and Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin against Russ Feingold, is now coming under fire for a previous foray into a public position that he took last January: When he testified against a bill that would have made it easier for adults who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue the responsible organizations such as the Catholic Church.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin legislature considered a bill as a result of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals, which would have eliminated the statute of limitations for victims to sue organizations responsible for sexual abuse, and created a three-year window for past victims to file new lawsuits. The bill, which failed to pass, was opposed by the insurance industry and church organizations — and by Johnson, who had served on the Green Bay diocese’s financial council. (Johnson is not Catholic himself, but a Lutheran.)

Johnson’s testimony was first highlighted this past June by political columnist Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Then in the past week, Bice again reported that the video was posted online.

“I believe it is a valid question to ask whether the employer of a perpetrator should also be severely damaged, or possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice,” Johnson told a state legislative committee back in January.

“This bill could actually have the perverse effect of leading to additional victims of sexual abuse,” he also added, “if individuals, recognizing that their organizations are at risk, become less likely to report suspected abuse.”

The victims’ rights group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has now called upon Johnson to urge the Catholic Church to release the names of priests accused of committing abuse.

Johnson reportedly no longer serves on the financial board, but did release this statement that seems to fall a bit short of SNAP’s demand: “I call on the Diocese of Green Bay to provide the utmost transparency in order to answer any lingering questions or doubt among victims of child abuse and those who seek to prevent child abuse in the future.”

The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 53.0%-43.1%.

This man is winning a race for a seat in the United States Senate.

I’m sickened by humanity.

Murphy victim suing Ratzinger

It’s been going on forever, ctd.

ABC News profiles Sr. Mary MacKillop, a 19th century Australian nun and founder of the  Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, now up for sainthood, but who was excommunicated in her lifetime for trying to report child rape by a priest:

Mary MacKillop, the nun who will soon be Australia’s first saint, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church because she discovered children were being abused by a priest and went public, the ABC’s Compass program can reveal.

In 1871, after only four years as a nun, she was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and turned out onto the street with no money and nowhere to go.

MacKillop’s cause for sainthood began in 1925 and has had the tireless backing of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the order she founded.

On October 17, MacKillop’s canonisation by Pope Benedict XVI will be a momentous occasion for Australia’s 5 million Roman Catholics.

But these new revelations show there were some in the church who set out to destroy the order that put her on the path to sainthood.

While serving with the Sisters of St Joseph, MacKillop and her fellow nuns heard disturbing stories about a priest, Father Keating from the Kapunda parish north of Adelaide, who was allegedly abusing children.

They told their director, a priest called Father Woods, who then went to the Vicar General.

The Vicar General subsequently sent Father Keating back to his home country of Ireland, where he continued to serve as a priest.

Father Paul Gardiner, who has pushed for MacKillop’s canonisation for 25 years, says Father Keating’s fellow Kapunda priest Father Horan swore revenge on the nun for uncovering the abuse.

“The story of the excommunication amounts to this: that some priests had been uncovered for being involved in the sexual abuse of children,” he said.

“The nuns told him and he told the Vicar General who was in charge at the time and he took severe action.

“And Father Horan, one of these priests, was so angry with this that he swore vengeance – and there’s evidence for this – against Woods by getting at the Josephites and destroying them.”

Father Horan was by now working for Adelaide’s Bishop Shiel and urged him to break the sisters up by changing their rules.

When MacKillop refused to comply, she was banished from the church at the age of 29.

“Mary was not excommunicated, in fact or in law. She submitted to a farcical ceremony where the Bishop had … lost it,” Father Gardiner said.

“He was a puppet being manipulated by malicious priests. This sounds terrible but it’s true.”

Five months later Bishop Shiel was gravely ill and dying. From his deathbed he instructed that MacKillop be absolved and restored.

A statement from the Sisters of St Joseph says the events of September 1871 have “been comprehensively documented”.

“There were several factors that led to this painful period for Mary and the sisters,” the statement said.

“The reasons for Mary’s excommunication have been written about and commented on in the public domain since that time. This is consistent with the information contained in the Compass program.”

Vatican bank investigated for money laundering, ₤ 90 million of assets frozen

What’s missing from Ratzinger’s “apology”

In his sermon yesterday at Westminster, Ratzinger devoted two paragraphs to the  crisis of abuse within his church, but it contained glaring omissions. Via The Guardian, the transcript:

I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.

I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of victims, the purification of the church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people.

Three things missing:

ii.) A condemnation of not only the rapists themselves, but the officials in the church hierarchy who abbetted their violations by their passivity, slowness, or secrecy.

i.) The pronouns “I” and “my.”  Ratzinger talks about the crisis “within the church,” as if everyone were somehow collectively responsible, and not only specific parties who actually committed the crimes, and those parties who propped up ineffective prosecuting policies and actively concealed abuse from civil authorities–both of which Ratzinger himself is responsible for, each on multiple occassions.

iii.) A promise for some concrete course of action. The rapists don’t need “chastisement.” They need prosecution to the fullest extent of their respective principality’s laws.