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Pope John Paul II was Bad. Pope Francis is Far Worse.

NEW YORK TIMES: VATICAN REPORT CASTS JOHN PAUL II IN HARSH NEW LIGHT

WASHINGTON POST: McCARRICK REPORT: POPE JOHN PAUL II KNEW OF MISCONDUCT

Pope John Paul II knew of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual relations with young seminarians and priests according to the Vatican report.

Yet currently Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz, Ricardo Ezzati, Vincent Nichols, George Pell and Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta are benefiting from Pope Francis’ care. And throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has also safeguarded Archbishop Anthony Apuron, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Fr. Nichola Corradi, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski and Msgr. Carlo Capella.

So thousands of children around the world are still being sexually assaulted by officials and employees of the Roman Catholic Church and those who cover-up their crimes are not being held accountable.

Errazuriz and Ezzati

The reaction of abuse survivors from Chile to the McCarrick report: “Where’s the report on the rise to power and fall of several members of the local hierarchy?” as reported by Crux. The list includes Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Ricardo Ezzati, both former archbishops of Santiago.”

“Over a quarter of the country’s bishops have been subpoenaed by prosecutors over allegations of either abuse or its cover up,” Crux noted. But Juan Carlos Claret Pool, activist for Chilean survivors and civil authorities, said he’s seen “no cooperation from the Vatican with the justice system.”

“Until the Catholic Church hands over all files [on sexual abuse] to the national justice systems, it’s all just fireworks, with no actual real progress in guaranteeing that abuse is stopped,” said Eneas Espinoza, a spokesperson for the Chilean Clerical Abuse Survivors Network.

Pope Francis appointed Errazuriz to his Counsel of Cardinals a month after his election as pontiff. Errazuriz was considered close to the pope while he was an Argentine prelate.

Before his Vatican appointment, Errazuriz had already made headlines in Chile for protecting Fr. Fernando Karadima, accused of sexually abusing minors. In January 2011, according to court testimony, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims or failed to carry out formal investigations for years. The first known reports of abuse by Karadima had reached Errázuriz in 2003.

Pope Francis elevated Ezzati to cardinal in 2014 although “the scandal involving Ezzati goes back to 2010 for his part in Karadima’s cover-up,” Crux stated. Also predating his promotion to cardinal were Ezzati’s protection of Fr. Óscar Muñoz, a former top official in the Santiago Archdiocese who is facing trial for allegedly abusing and raping several children, and his cover-up of Fr. Cristian Precht, already found guilty of abusing minors and vulnerable adults.

When Ezzati submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in 2017 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, the pope kept him on until 2019.

“Cardinal Errazuriz should be in jail, and Ezzati too. What those men did, especially Errazuriz, is absolutely criminal” stated Juan Carlos Cruz, one of Karadima’s victims. 

“The thing is, human beings are ruined by abuse and cover up. The abuse was horrible, but the cover up by Errazuriz, Ezzati and the bishops in Chile, was as bad as the abuse …. Some [survivors] have opportunities to heal, while others end up committing suicide, and there’s a whole range in between, and it’s atrocious,” Cruz told Crux.

“Last week we saw how another cardinal [Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz] will be ‘punished’ with retirement at a church home, suspension from his responsibilities and a ban from being buried at a cathedral,” noted Eneas Espinoza, a victim of Precht. “That’s not justice, that’s mockery.”

(The Vatican made the announcement on Nov. 6 but would not disclose the accusations against Gulbinowicz although there was alleged sexual abuse. The archdiocese said his poor health meant “he was probably unaware of what had just happened.” Gulbinowicz died on Nov. 16 at age 97.)

Pell

In addition to Cardinal Errazuriz, Pope Francis also appointed Australian Cardinal Geroge Pell to his Counsel of Cardinals. Like Errazuriz, Pell had already made national headlines before being invited to Rome. He had been accused in a 2012 government inquiry of having a “sociopathic lack of empathy for a family whose two daughters were raped by a Catholic priest.”

Pell had introduced his Melbourne Response in 1996 to handle sexual abuse cases in the Church. “It shows [his] cynical approach … and disregard for the families,” stated reporter Tara Brown.

In what became known as his “Ellis defense,” Pell had “instructed his lawyers to crush this victim” when John Ellis, a survivor of clerical sex abuse, sued the Sydney archdiocese in 2005.

Pope Francis appointed Pell to head all of Vatican finance in 2014. He left in 2017 to face child sexual abuse charges in Australia.

Police had charged Pell with “historical” allegations of sex offences in 2017. The cardinal denied any wrongdoing. In December 2018, “a 12-member jury unanimously found him guilty of exposing himself to two boys, fondling them and forcing one to perform oral sex on him.” In March 2019, he was sentenced to six years in prison and spent 13 months behind bars.  

Pell appealed. The High Court of Australia dismissed Pell’s conviction in April 2020, “saying that the jury in the 2018 trial ‘ought to have entertained a doubt’ as to the cardinal’s guilt,” as noted by the National Catholic Reporter. Nevertheless, there are still misgivings as to whether this latest decision is correct according to Melissa Davey, Guardian Australia’s Melbourne bureau chief and author of The Case of George Pell: Reckoning with Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy.

In May 2020, “an Australian government-appointed inquiry found that Cardinal George Pell had been aware of child sex abuse by at least two priests in the 1970s and 1980s and failed to take steps to get the priests removed.”

Pell returned to Rome on Sept. 30, 2020. He is expected to possibly “resume his work” and “unofficially help” with finances noted the well-connected Vatican reporter, Edward Pentin. “Pope Francis is known to respect the cardinal and values his frankness and honesty,” Pentin stated. 

Pope Francis “warmly welcomed” Pell to a private meeting on Oct. 12. “It went very well,” Pell told reporters.

Nichols

On the same day the McCarrick was released, an independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales was also released. They reported that “between 1970 and 2015, the Roman Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse.” Nor is this “solely a historical problem. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations each year. [T]he true scale of sexual abuse of children is likely to have been much higher.”

Like the dozens of reports by attorneys general, grand juries, commissions, and organizations on clerical sex abuse from the US, Ireland and Australia released before Pope Francis was elected, the sexual abuse of children in the UK involved not only “vaginal rape and anal rape” but also “sadistic beatings driven by sexual gratification.”

The IICSA report specifically mentioned the failure of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Church in England and Wales, to “acknowledge any personal responsibility,” according to The Guardian.

“Vincent Nichols will retire with a full pension – meanwhile, the victims that he denied justice to have to live on, still suffering. The fact is Nichols is a serial protector of paedophiles,” stated a survivor who gave evidence before the inquiry.

Lead counsel for the IICSA, Brian Altman QC, also criticized Nichols for delaying Church reforms and for defending the Vatican’s refusal to cooperate with investigators. The final report noted that the Vatican’s “lack of cooperation passes understanding,” per The Guardian.

After Nichols answered questions from the inquiry, two lawyers representing survivors of clerical sex abuse wrote a letter to the press in November 2019 reported The Tablet. “The evidence has revealed a shocking mindset in the diocese of disdain for survivors,” Richard Scorer and David Enright wrote. [T]he buck stops with Cardinal Nichols. The time has come for him to step down.”

Pope Francis asked Nichols to remain in his post after the cardinal offered his resignation on his recent 75th birthday.

Zanchetta

Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta returned to work at the Vatican in June 2020 after the original COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Italy “amid an ongoing trial in Argentina. He has been accused of ‘aggravated continuous sexual abuse’ of two seminarians as well as fraud and mismanagement of funds. He denies the charges,” noted the independent Catholic News Agency (CNA).

“Although Zanchetta is not accused of abusing minors, the alleged victims were men as young as 18. Crux reached out to one of the priests who made the allegations against Zanchetta. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because ‘we’re not being well treated when news is published …. The Zanchetta case is a very delicate one,’ he said.”

The Vatican said that Zanchetta’s current work at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) — the Vatican’s central bank and asset management body — “does not interfere in any way with the investigations,” per CNA.

“Argentine media have since reported that the bishop was first accused of sexually inappropriate behavior as early as 2015,” CNA stated.

But the Vatican has repeatedly denied having prior knowledge of sexual abuse allegations against Zanchetta before Pope Francis appointed him in December 2017 to a Vatican position. He had been allowed to resign as Bishop of Orán for “health reasons.” The prelate was one of Pope Francis’s first episcopal appointments in 2013.

The pontiff, however, believed the accusations to be credible because he suspended Zanchetta from his Vatican job and initiated a canonical investigation in January 2019, as reported by Crux.

In a May 2019 interview, Pope Francis said that a preliminary investigation against Zanchetta had concluded and would proceed to a trial, conducted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). “They will make a trial, they will issue a sentence and I will promulgate it,” the pope said.

Since then, there has been little to no public movement on the Zanchetta case, Crux observed.

Zanchetta has little to fear from either a CDF trial or Argentine judicial authorities as he is already living inside the Vatican.

Apuron

One reason Zanchetta need not worry about a CDF trial is because of the outcome of Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s a trial conducted by the CDF. Apuron had been accused by four former altar boys of rape and sexual assault in the 1970s. Apuron’s nephew filed a lawsuit Jan. 10, 2018, claiming that his uncle raped him in 1989 or 1990. On Aug. 9, 2018, another survivor accused Apuron of sexual abuse in 1994-1995.

Pope Francis removed Apuron from office in 2016, meaning the pope found the charges against the archbishop to be credible. Apuron’s “regular canonical trial” began in August 2017. He was found guilty in March 2018 of “certain” unspecified charges. The sentence was that he leave his position as Archbishop of Agana in Guam and no longer reside there but “in the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until a final resolution.”

Pope Francis said that “he was personally considering the archbishop’s appeal” and the matter was settled in April 2019. Although he still lost his job, Apuron keeps his income, benefits and freedom since there is no oversight as to where he lives.

Ladaria

Another reason Zanchetta should have no fear is that Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer is prefect of the CDF which is also the Vatican department responsible for processing cases of clergy sex abuse. In July 2017, Archbishop Ladaria, the No. 2 CDF official, was accused of covering up for Fr. Gianni Trotta. The CDF had received complaints against Trotta in 2009 and took three years to find him guilty of child sex abuse. Trotta was removed from the priesthood but the CDF did not contact the civil authorities. In fact, Ladaria wrote to Trotta’s bishop in 2012 instructing him not to divulge the reasons why Trotta had been laicized “so as to avoid scandal.”

In 2014, “Trotta allegedly raped five boys, abused others in his home individually or in groups, photographing them during sexual acts.” In 2015, Trotta was convicted and given a prison sentence for sexually abusing a boy. “If Ladaria had informed the police, these children would have been safe,” Vatican expert Emiliano Fittipaldi noted.

Pope Francis elevated Ladaria to cardinal May 2018 and promoted him to head of the CDF.

Corradi

Perhaps the pope’s high regard for Ladaria is influenced by the fact that by open letter and video message “handed to Pope Francis” in May 2014, former students at the notorious Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Italy informed the pontiff that one of their predators, Fr. Nicola Corradi, held a current position at the Provolo Institute in Argentina. More than one hundred deaf and mute children had been sexually abused at the Italian institute.

Pope Francis took no action to stop Corradi.

Corradi and four others in the Argentine school were arrested in November 2016 and charged with raping and molesting at least 22 children. More reports poured in and “it’s now thought that as many as 60 children fell victim to abuse.” Prosecutors said the alleged anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden, basement and chapel. “Victims said they were forced to perform sexual acts on one another and made to watch other students being abused.” “One of the alleged victims said she witnessed how a girl was raped by one priest while the other one forced her to give him oral sex.” Another accused a nun “of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was raped by a priest” when she was five years old.

“The tormentors knew the other children wouldn’t hear the screams as they were deaf.”

In November 2019, Corradi, another priest and a gardener were found guilty of rape and abuse at the school from 2004 to 2016. Corradi, an 83-year-old Italian national, was given a 42-year sentence.

Wesolowski

Zanchetta should feel safe living inside the Vatican because of the experience of Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who was accused of soliciting poor street boys for sex. Pope Francis was informed in July 2013. He believed the allegations to be true because he dismissed Wesolowski in secret but left him a free man.

The archbishop was finally arrested by the Vatican in September 2014 only after “there was a serious risk that the ambassador would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited,” reported Corriere della Sera. Wesolowski was found with more than 100,000 computer files of child pornography, a “key ingredient” in sex trafficking.

Wesolowski was put under house arrest that left him unrestricted freedom inside the Vatican City State at the “express desire” of Pope Francis. Wesolowski died mysteriously on the eve of his trial which would have publicized the above information

Capella

There is also little chance that Zanchetta will be extradited to Argentina based on the protection provided to Msgr. Carlo Capella, a Vatican diplomat Pope Francis had posted to his Washington D.C. embassy in 2016.

Capella was recalled to the Vatican “after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged  and face trial in the U.S. regarding child pornography …. The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity in August 2017, and said the request was denied three days later.”  

In September, Windsor, Ontario, police issued a Canada-wide warrant accusing Capella of “accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.” Robert Talach, an Ontario lawyer, said Capella should be extradited back to Canada. “If Pope Francis has been nothing but a PR exercise this will prove it,” he said.

“The diplomat’s recall comes ahead of an international conference next week at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on protecting children from online sexual exploitation, pornography and abuse.”

Capella pleaded guilty at a Vatican court in June 2018, to possessing child pornography. He was ordered to pay a fine of €5,000 and sentenced to serve five years in the Vatican barracks.

McCarrick

The New York Archdiocesan Review Board found that the allegation of sex abuse of a minor by Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated” in June 2018. After the announcement, two other accusations of sexual abuse of minors by McCarrick were revealed.

Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and assigned him to “a life of prayer and penance” in a Kansas friary – an unenforceable seclusion. McCarrick is living in “undisclosed” location of his own choosing.

A week before his much-publicized Vatican “summit” on child sex abuse, Pope Francis made headlines by laicizing (defrocking) McCarrick in February 2019.  Laicizing an 89-year-old, “financially independent” prelate may be “accountability” of sorts, but it is hardly a deterrent to other bishops.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org — a website that documents the abuse crisis — also noted that other bishops who’ve been sanctioned “are enjoying relatively soft landings,” reported Crux.

Furthermore, “the pope hasn’t uttered one public word of criticism against them. He should order a full public accounting of every bishop who is an enabler or an abuser or both,” Barrett Doyle said. “But I’m not optimistic that this will occur. I fear that the McCarrick report will be a one and done,” stated Barret Doyle.

“Putting much of the blame on a dead pope is a convenient outcome for a living one,” wrote Joan Vennochi, a Boston Globe columnist. The report details “suggest that Pope Francis, too, was part of a deliberate blindness that allowed predators like McCarrick to flourish.”

As Barrett Doyle told The Washington Post, Pope Francis’s “lack of curiosity” about the allegations against McCarrick “was at best negligent, at worst corrupt.”

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.

6 Responses

  1. I was waiting for your contribution…….
    especially after the flattering words over the news of the success of Francis and his regime on sex abuse….
    All sounding very appealing to the ears of the “un-initiated”.

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