Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 was supposed to be a debacle. Richard Dawkins reportedly was planning on making a citizen’s arrest of the pope because of the clerical sex abuse scandals. A mock memo suggesting the launch of “Benedict” condoms, his blessing same-sex unions, opening an abortion ward and ordaining women was widely published. Protestors wanted his “state visit” downgraded to a “pastoral visit” so the cost would be paid by the Catholic Church. Arguments for this rested on whether the Vatican counted as an actual state, and even so, state visits are for political reasons.
But by the time the pope arrived, the wind had shifted significantly. Catholic Voices, a project founded by [Opus Dei] specifically for the pope’s visit, had stepped in and provided media training to faithful Catholics who wanted to convey the joy of the Gospel through the media.”
Opus Dei, an official institution of the Catholic Church, at the top is a secret society of international bankers, financiers, businessmen and their supporters. Their goal is the same as other plutocrats – unbridled power – except they use the influence of the Catholic Church and its worldwide network of institutions exempt from both taxes and financial reporting requirements to advance right-wing parties and governments.
Co-founder of Catholic Voices, Jack Valero, is also press officer for Opus Dei in the UK. He was joined by Austen Ivereigh who works with the Opus Dei Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on conferences and making videos for their School on Church Communications.
“Inspired by the success of Catholic Voices, similar groups have appeared across the world, notably in Spain and Mexico, where Ivereigh and Valero have travelled to give training.” Right-wing National Review editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez, is the founding director of the U.S. branch of Catholic Voices. Lopez regularly lectures at Opus Dei’s Catholic Information Center on K Street, Washington D.C., as do other “leaders in the conservative policy world.”
The U.S. branch of Catholic Voices “has been working hard to prepare Catholics to speak with the media for Pope Francis’ visit in the fall. … “You haven’t lived until you’ve sat across from Kathryn in a TV studio for a mock interview, lights shining down, all miked up,” Sharla Cloutier who went through Catholic Voices training, said. “They really prepared us for anything!”
Kim Daniels, senior adviser of Catholic Voices USA, former adviser to Sara Palin and spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), presented a training program at the Washington Catholic Information Center. “Thousands of journalists coming to D.C. to write about Pope Francis’ visit are looking for a story,” Daniels said. “People won’t remember what you say as much as how you made them feel,” she said.
The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross will hold a conference for the Religion Newswriters Association on “background” for the pope’s visit. Ivereigh was one of the presenters, as were Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, member of Opus Dei, and long-time friend of Pope Bergoglio; Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, which has spent millions as one of the pope’s proxy agencies in the war against women and gays; Opus Dei Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles and Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, the pope’s ambassador to the UN. (“Women’s essential contributions to the development of society is through their dedication to their family and to raising the next generation,” Auza told his fellow UN delegates last month.)
“I think [the pope’s] going to give an incredibly robust speech to Congress,” said Ivereigh. “He’s going to tell the politicians connect with ordinary people, serve the common good, serve the most vulnerable in society. To the U.N., he’ll be talking about climate control and that will be very powerful. He will have different message for the various audiences.”
One of the rare missteps for the pope’s PR team was announcing his plans to canonize Junipero Serra in Washington D.C. as a “national event.” The 18th century Spanish Franciscan friar founded the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California. In a rare display of outrage against the pope, Native Americans and others protested honoring a man who participated in the brutalization of indigenous people. “By 1818 the percentage of Indians who died in the missions reached 86 percent. Over 81,000 Indian ‘converts’ eventually managed to successfully flee the missions.”
Dorothy Day co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933, a pacifist movement which serves and advocates for the poor. At a recent conference honoring Day, Archbishop Gomez and Kathryn Lopez were the presenters along with Day’s granddaughter. So it looks like an announcement of plans to beatify an American female social justice icon will obliterate news about the Serra event even if it’s still held.
Pope Francis will make other stops in New York City besides the UN. The Vatican announced last week that it would study appeals from several parishes ordered closed by Archdiocese of New York including Day’s former parish. I’m guessing the study will last longer than the end of the pope’s visit.
Pope Francis Shows Disdain for Other Countries but Plays the U.S.
Staffers in the Vatican paid to think about such things sometimes sit around trying to identify possible tipping points in the public romance with Pope Francis, meaning a calamity that might put a serious dent in his high approval ratings. One no-brainer on the list would be a perception that he’s backtracking on ‘zero tolerance when it comes to sexual abuse in the Church.”
But only in the U.S.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its recommendation on June 2, 2015, that Pope Francis should make an official apology to Canada for “the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.” In preparation for the June 11 meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the pope, “Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt wrote to the Vatican to bring this and other key recommendations” included in the TRC report to the their attention.
Pope Francis granted “an unusually short” audience of only 10 minutes to Harper which “stands in contrast to the 50 minutes the pope granted a day earlier to Vladimir Putin.” Although Harper “drew the pope’s attention” to Valcourt’s letter, the official Vatican press release omitted mentioning both the letter and the TRC.
When Pope Francis appointed Cardinal George Pell of Sydney to Council of Cardinals a month after his election, Pell had already been making headlines in Australia. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was instituted in November 2012 after calls for a national inquiry into explosive allegations by a senior New South Wales police investigator that the Catholic Church covered up evidence involving pedophile priests.”
Testimony accused Pell of showing a “sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and response of the Catholic hierarchy.” When a former altar boy sexually abused by a priest sued, Pell had “instructed his lawyers to crush this victim.”
When the pope promoted Pell as head of Vatican finance, Australian Catholics petitioned, “Pope Francis: Sack Cardinal Pell Now…. His lack of empathy, justice and compassion for the victims of [sex] abuse is hard to reconcile with what Jesus did and taught. His few words of apology were hard to take seriously.”
In May 2015, the Royal Commission held hearings about Ballarat where Pell had been ordained and served until 1987. “Scores of children were abused by Catholic clergy from the 1960s to the 1980s. Many victims in Ballarat and elsewhere in Victoria state committed suicide, in one of the worst clusters of clerical abuse trauma in the world.”
“Testimony alleged that the Pell tried to buy a victim’s silence and that he was involved in the decision to move the nation’s most notorious abuser priest, Gerald Ridsdale, (eventually convicted of more than one hundred counts of assault) between parishes. Pell, who lived with Ridsdale and another priest, was criticized for appearing with Ridsdale at his first trial in 1993”
More than 55,000 people petitioned Pope Francis calling for Pell to answer questions in person from the Royal Commission in order to “see and listen to the pain of the victims first hand and explain his actions and decisions.”
“He has a catalog of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care,” said Peter Saunders, one of two victims of clerical sex abuse on the pope’s sex abuse commission, on Australia’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday, May 31. The cardinal’s position as head of Vatican finance is “untenable,” Saunders said. “I would go as far to say,” he continued, “that I consider him to be quite a dangerous individual.”
Two weeks later, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis said he was “resigning.” Nienstedt stated, “I leave with a clear conscience…”
U.S. media headlines. Commission members appeased. Pell stays.
Court documents and police report in 2012 showed that Twin Cities’ archdiocesan officials had received complaints about Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer but allowed him to remain in ministry, warned Wehmeyer to leave the parish before the police arrived and withheld Wehmeyer’s laptop from the police for several days. Wehmeyer pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and possessing child pornography.
In May 2013, Catholics sent a petition to the pope’s US ambassador asking that Nienstedt, whose “tenure is marked by arrogant evasion of responsibility, lack of integrity, and abuse of trust,” be replaced.
Minnesota Public Radio, awarded top national honors in broadcast journalism for reporting how archdiocesan officials “over decades systematically shielded priests who sexually abused children while claiming they were national leaders in prevention,” also reported that in April 2014 “two bishops flew to Washington D.C. and took a risk by telling the papal ambassador that Nienstedt’s advisors urged him to resign.”
So we know Pope Francis was notified in 2013 and 2014 about Nienstedt but kept him in office until he needed a headline to obliterate the news from Australia.
In January 2015, Pope Francis appointed Juan Barros Madrid, Military Bishop of Chile, as bishop of Osorno, Chile. Within a month, 1,300 lay Catholics, nearly half of Chile’s Parliament and thirty priests in the diocese signed a letter demanding that the pope rescind the appointment. Victims of the Fr. Fernando Karadima said Barros had been present when they were sexually abused as children, did nothing to stop him and later covered up for Karadima.
The archbishop of Concepcion said he spoke with the pope on March 6. “With firmness and much conviction he told me that he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason that Bishop Barros should not be installed as diocesan bishop.” Additionally, the pope had been cardinal primate of the neighboring Argentina while headlines about Karadima and the cover up by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa filled the Chilean press for years. Errázuriz was also chosen by the pope for his Council of Cardinals.
Barros was installed as bishop on March 21 “amid riot police and shouting protesters…. hundreds of churchgoers dressed in the black of mourning denounced Barros.” Since then, Barros “has had to sneak out of back exits, call on riot police to shepherd him from the city’s cathedral and coordinate movements with bodyguards and police canine units.”
“Pope Francis has to withdraw this appointment or I and others may find it impossible to stay on the commission,” Peter Saunders said on March 27 two days before Palm Sunday when the Church begins a series of special liturgies culminating on Easter. (As a former Church employee, I can attest that this week is exhausting for all involved. Anyone who can, takes a vacation the next week.)
Cardinal O’Malley met with members of the sex abuse commission the week after Easter – April 12. Bishop Joseph Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., was called to Rome for an April 14 meeting with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Finn’s “resignation” was announced 30 months after Finn’s conviction in a civil court for failure to report child abuse and 25 months into this pontificate.
U.S. media headlines. Commission members appeased. Barros stays – although an announcement may be timed for the pope’s trip to South America in July.
A priest under Finn’s supervision “was sentenced to fifty years in prison for producing hundreds of pornographic photos, using his own parishioners as victims, some under the age of three. And for years prior, Finn not only refused to look into or even acknowledge any of the many complaints about this priest’s behavior, some of which came directly from the principal of the school that most of the victims attended, he also stonewalled once the child porn came to light, failed to inform or warn any of the families of the victims, gave the priest continued access to children and was complicit in the destruction of evidence.”
In Philadelphia, the pope’s altar will be set up near the steps made famous in the “Rocky” movies. On June 27, it was announced that Fr. John Paul chose “voluntary” laicization. Local parents had been enraged when Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput left Paul as pastor for over a year while he was secretly investigated for two separate allegations of child sex abuse which did not become public until Paul’s resignation November 2013. “The resulting news coverage in 2013 prompted over a dozen victims to come forward.”
June 15, more U.S. headlines: “Vatican to try ex-ambassador on child abuse charges”
Not one single U.S. media outlet reported that “sometime in July” 2013 the cardinal of Santo Domingo notified the pope that his ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, was credibly accused of paying poor boys to masturbate while he filmed them with his cell phone and to perform oral sex. The pope dismissed Wesolowski and he disappeared. The Dominican Republic wanted him extradited.
“For me it was a surprise to see Wesolowski walking along Via della Scrofa in Rome,” Santo Domingo Auxiliary Bishop Víctor Masalles tweeted on June 24, 2014. Embarrassed, the Vatican announced on June 27 that Wesolowski had been laicized (defrocked) “in the past few days.” The U.S. press reported this as “the most tangible demonstration of what Pope Francis called his ‘zero tolerance’ for child sex abuse,” even though the former archbishop still had unlimited access to children.
Wesolowski was arrested by the Vatican in September 2014 because “there was a serious risk that the nuncio would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited.” Wesolowski had more than 100,000 computer files of pornography. In January 2015, a Vatican spokesman said that even under “house arrest,” Wesolowski was still able to acquire child porn.
No U.S. media outlet reported that Pope Francis had allowed his prelate 18 months freedom to commit crimes involving child pornography which sometimes involves the tortuous death of the victims – something to think about the next time the pope speaks out against the sex trafficking of children.
Similar to Wesolowski, Pope Francis dismissed Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, Peru, in May 2013 without notifying the public or the police. On August 21, 2013, a Spanish lawyer wrote in his blog that the Vatican “accepted the resignation” of Miranda for “having sex with minors and adults, too” which had been “solicited in confession.”
Miranda is still at large.
June 10, more U.S. headlines:
“Pope Francis took the biggest step yet to crack down on bishops who cover up for priests who rape and molest children.”
“There really hasn’t been a mechanism for dealing with the problem.”
“Finally Punishing Bishops Who Covered For Pedophiles”
“Taking a new step … creation of an unprecedented department”
“For the first time, Vatican will judge bishops for sex abuse … his most significant move yet … an enormously big deal”
No media noted that this new tribunal would report to Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office of the Holy See that has dealt with all sexual abuse cases 2001. As bishop of Regensburg, Germany, Müller promoted Fr. Peter Kramer, previously convicted of child sex abuse and ordered not to work with children, to pastor. When victims learned of Kramer’s new assignment, additional victims came forward and Kramer was convicted of additional child abuse.
None noted that Müller reports to the former cardinal primate of Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who “refused to meet with victims and stayed largely silent on the issue of clergy sex abuse, except to issue a surprising denial that he had ever handled an abusive priest. His only known action was to commission a behind-the-scenes report to judges that sought exoneration of a criminally convicted priest by impugning the credibility of the priest’s victims.” BishopAccoutability.org showed Bergoglio’s involvement in five specific cases.
Few noted that the victims and their advocates have said for decades that what was needed was a papal directive that credibly accused sex offenders and those who cover up should be reported to civil law enforcement authorities.
None noted that Finn had been removed and Wesolowski and Miranda dismissed without this “enormously big deal.” None noted in reporting on Nienstedt that no “new mechanism” was used.
Pope Francis is Close to Opus Dei and their Money Men
“Some Jesuits say quietly that Bergoglio, despite being a Jesuit, is closer ideologically to Opus Dei.”
When Pope Francis named his Council of Cardinals, he chose Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga as their coordinator. Rodríguez Maradiaga is “the leader of Opus Dei” in Honduras which “participated actively in the 2009 coup against the constitutional [and progressive] president, Manuel Zelaya.” “Active members of this clan are making intromissions in Honduran national politics.” “Honduras now has the highest homicide rate in the world fueled by the drug trade and government corruption. Only 2 percent of murders are solved.”
Rodríguez Maradiaga has become the pope’s right-hand man, “some might say vice pope.”
After becoming an archbishop, Pell invited Opus Dei to establish themselves in Melbourne and then Sydney. Under Pell’s patronage, “Opus Dei’s star is on the rise, it is said, and that of others – including other more established groups within the Church – is sinking,” Sydney Morning Herald’s religious affairs columnist wrote in January 2002.
Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the only American on the Council, is a faithful supporter of Opus Dei and has sponsored the canonization of the priest who “established an Opus Dei presence among students and professors at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology” between 1946 and 1956. Metropolitan Boston now has more than eighty colleges and universities attracting thousands of students from around the world. O’Malley celebrates special Masses commemorating Opus Dei founder, Josemaria Escriva, and visits the Opus Dei (male only) center at Harvard.
The Council for the Economy will be coordinated by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, another member of Council. Marx was the invited speaker for 300 guests of Opus Dei at a meeting held in the Deutsche Bank, Germany’s central bank. Like O’Malley, he has presided at Masses celebrating Escrivá, and visits the Opus Dei center for university students in Munich.
Peruvian Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, the most senior Opus Dei hierarch, was also named by Francis to the Council for the Economy. It was just reported that “Cipriani’s personal investments are tied with one of the country’s largest construction companies … For decades, the cardinal has used his position in the Catholic Church to openly criticize social movements and protests against extractive industries in the country. Under his leadership, the Archdiocese of Lima became an investor in the stocks of one of the most controversial mining companies, Yanacocha, which sparked the mobilization of large-scale environmental social movement in the country.”
“Cardinal Cirpriani has always sided with businesses and the government in office,” said anthropologist and Director of Noticias SER, Javier Torres Seoane. “We have never heard him defending a community that is confronting a mine or a company for pollution. His voice is not on the side of indigenous peoples or farming communities.” Cipriani was a staunch supporter of former head of state Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving in prison for crimes against humanity. He has a record of condemning LGBT, women and environmental activists.
Opus Dei’s premier financial institution, Banco Santander “offered its availability” to the Vatican shortly after Bergoglio became pope and is also a Vatican consultant.
(see “Banco Santander S.A. Fined $200 Million for Advice Failings.” “Banco Santander, The Epitome of Bankster Evil,” “Huge Eurobank, rated ‘Britain’s worst,’ now accused of gouging U.S. consumers” “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced that it had issued subpoenas to two subsidiaries of the Spanish lender Banco Santander.”)
All the other consulting companies hired by Pope Francis have similar backgrounds in advising clients how to evade regulations and cheat consumers.
Peter Sutherland, managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International and former chairman of BP Oil, is a member of the International Advisory Board of IESE, the flagship Opus Dei graduate business school. Sutherland has been a Vatican consultant for years and was appointed by Pope Francis to the supervisory board for the department which manages the Vatican’s vast real estate and investment portfolios.
George Yeo, former Minister of Finance for Singapore and a Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces, is also on the advisory board of IESE and appointed by the pope as a financial adviser.
Mauricio Larrain, external director of Santander Bank Group Chile and general director of Opus Dei’s ESE Business School at Los Andes University of Chile, was appointed by the pope to the layman’s board of the Vatican Bank.
Other laymen appointed by Pope Francis have similar connections to and backgrounds in plutocratic institutions.
Five American Companies Control What We Think … Five giant corporations control 90 percent of U.S. mass media. And direct links connect all five of these media conglomerates to the political establishment and the economic and political power-elites of the United States.
(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))
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