Behind closed doors and golden gates, The Vatican claims to know how to deal with pedophile priests. The Pope has made great strides in communicating with victims, says a letter from the official Vatican spokesman Sunday, citing "listening groups" at U.S. archdioceses as an example. Those groups have very few low attendance. In fact, first change The Vatican needs to make is to stop taking credit for any progress being made to stop pedophile priests. If it had not been for persistent pursuit by civil attorneys of these criminals, none of the truth about pedophile priests would be public today. No thanks goes to Catholic Church hierarchy, who use every legal means available to fight the victims.
“Think of us as an ally” Fr. Federico Lombardi repeats in his apparent impromptu letter to the Survivors Voice group protest Sunday October 31 at The Vatican.
One real thing the Church could do: In each region of the United States, take property the Church uses as retreats for priests and turn it over to an independent group to run as recovery centers for the victims of pedophile priest crimes. Take the spa like acreage where priests who commit these serial felonies can go for months at a time and let the victims run the properties as recovery centers for the victims, since many of us face worst behavioral and psychological results of the priests’ crimes than the priests who committed them. The Catholic Church could show it really has changed by admitting its guilt and taking genuine action for the victims, even if it means relinquishing some real estate assets.*
Apparently Lombardi was trying to deliver his letter calling the Church an “ally” to Survivors Voice as they stood outside on the sidewalk Sunday, but the protesters started jeering him and he had to retreat back into the building, according to news reports. But reading Lombardi’s letter just now in National Catholic Reporter I started jeering myself by the third paragraph, because once again the Church is buck passing. The Vatican admits it was wrong for about three sentences, then starts pointing the finger of guilt in the other direction.
Lombardi writes in paragraph three: “I feel encouraged by the attitude of the Pope to listen to the victims, and show the will to do everything necessary, so that the horrible crimes of sexual abuse may never happen again.”
Right away that's a problem.
Because you can’t work on the future without first fixing the past. You can’t have the same guys who perpetrated the crimes now be in charge of the solution, yet that is what The Vatican has used its power and influence to ensure, and that is what makes victims jeer.
But great, Mr. Lombardi, (and be grateful I can call you “mister”) you say The Vatican is going to listen? Then prove it, show us, make a major change and do it in public showing us that you are finally listening.
Lombardi writes: “I know, you think that the Church should do more, and in a quicker way. From my point of view the Church has done, and is doing a lot. Not only the Pope, with his words and example, but many Church communities in various parts of the world have done and are doing a lot, by way of listening to the victims as well as in the matter of prevention and formation. Personally, I am in contact with many persons who work in this field in many countries, and I am convinced that they are doing a lot.”
Therein lies another problem. “Listening groups” at archdioceses don't reach most of the victims, because most victims of pedophile priests don’t want to step foot in or near a Catholic building ever again. Most of us gag, some vomit, many double over in pain just when we see a clerical collar. How can you expect us to be able to come to the Catholic Church for healing when it's the Catholic Church that traumatized us?
Watch Al Jazeera Report video of interview with Gary Bergeron the night before Reformation Day 2010
Apparently Church hierarchy spend all their time cloistered behind security gates communicating with no one but each other. Yet they claim they have listened to survivors of pedophile priest crimes around the world. Lombardi cites these “listening groups” as a sign of all the good they've done, when in fact in most cities archdioceses have had to open listening groups up to “victims of child sex abuse in every situation,” because there weren’t enough participants among the real victims of real Catholic priest pedophiles willing to participate.
Still Lombardi says the Pope is already doing a lot by listening. And the mainstream media quote him like he can be believed.
Truth is the Pope is only listening to victims who can get past the gag reflex and still hang around churches, a very small percentage of us, I'm sure, and I know this because of what I've learned writing City of Angels Blog the past four years.
In fact, I do not feel at all like the Church has been listening to us after writing this blog for four years and putting this message out as publicly as I can. Plus, it's not the Catholic Church that has taken too few steps to balance the weights of justice in the case of Catholic priest sex crimes, it's law enforcement.
Something is not right. They got away with it. Why are they still in power?
After the Survivors Voice event in St. Peter’s Square October 31, or as close to the Square as they were allowed to get, I hope Survivors Voice follows through with the other project on its list of things to accomplish while in Europe this week.
Hand that petition over to the UN. Get as much press coverage about the Crimes Against Humanity committed by the Catholic bishops who are still in power and influence in The Vatican as you got about the march on The Vatican last Sunday.
Stop wasting time trying to get The Vatican, who are the perpetrators, to change or do anything different, and start putting the focus on law enforcement. In this case, law enforcement is the United Nations. Unless some time when I wasn’t looking the New World Order took over, the UN is about the only law enforcement arm open to victims of child sex abuse where the real perpetrator is an international organization that aided and abetted the crimes, allowing serial child-rape to go on for decades.
Why isn't Roger Mahony in Prison right now?
The perpetrators in these crimes have never served a minute of time, instead today they run a Church Nation surrounded by golden walls and puppet guards.
I mean the real problem here is there has never been any precedent so nobody really knows how to deal with the pedophile epidemic in the Catholic Church, even those inside the church who, to believe Lombardi, want to see the crimes stopped.
So, Mr. Lombardi, stop telling us that behind your closed doors and golden gates, you know what you're doing, because you don't, obviously you don't. Start getting honest, admit that there is something inherently wrong with the entire Dark Ages structure of Catholic Church hierarchy and start really changing.
Sex abuse by Catholic priests against hundreds of thousands of children in the past century was a crime against humanity. It may be true that the Catholic bishops will never be able to get away with it again, so in that respect we can say the crimes are in the past.
But the halt to these crimes is all thanks to the relentless pursuit of the criminals by civil lawyers, not law enforcement, certainly not thanks cooperation or any overt acts on the part of Catholic Church hierarchy.
In the past decade these crimes came to light in spite of criminal prosecutors and politicians shivering in their shirts at the thought of serving a subpoena on a priest, let alone a bishop. If it had not been for civil lawyers investing their personal assets into years long pursuit of these criminals, none of the truth about the crimes would be public today.
Delivering that petition to the UN is definitely the next step any group should take and then putting the focus on local law enforcement. The crime here was allowing sex abuse to continue to take place, not the sex abuse itself. Allowing an organization to operate in codes and canons of secrecy is a Dark Ages leftover and perhaps an arm of the United Nations devoted to oversight and investigation would force the Church to operate in the twenty-first century.
Dear Mr. Lombardi
Lombardi seems to be open to listening to victims right now, so here is a victim, me, writing with a request, and I think I can speak for a lot of victims, since I've interviewed a few hundred in the last four years writing this blog, plus I spend about 12 hours a day reading about the crimes, so I know a little bit about what really happened in what I call the pedophile epidemic among priests in the Catholic Church. First of all, you have to start admitting that the problem is inside the Catholic Church and stop trying to divert attention to other groups.
I believe that in a hundred years or so, crime historians will see the connection between the pedophile epidemic all over the country today and its roots in the pedophilia that ran rampant inside the Catholic Church, and someday people besides me will write about that connection.
For now the Church has to stop dodging its guilt in this issue and stop pointing at all the other places in society where you find pedophilia and focus on its own responsibility for turning this evil out onto the world, if nothing else, through its neglect.
You Want to Help Us? Look At Us.
Look at the population of about a hundred thousand victims that live in the United States today and ask, how many of you have a place where you can go for a retreat, for respite, for recovery from the decades of trauma these crimes produced in your lives? How many of us have a place within a reasonable traveling distance where we can go for recovery without having to sell the house and go into bankruptcy. How many of us found out that the only way we would ever get help from the Catholic Church was to hire a lawyer and evidence and file a lawsuit then wait five or six years and see if you get anything in a cash settlement, which is about all the Church has ever done for its crime victims.
Here at City of Angels we've been calling out with a need for recovery centers for four years.
Is anyone listening at The Vatican?
We need recovery centers, places where victims of Catholic priest pedophile crimes can go for free, no charge, just like the Church helped out the perpetrator clergymen. Recovery centers run and paid for by a foundation set up by The Vatican by selling off a few statues, a chain of recovery centers for its victims run by victims as nonprofits all over the country, perhaps all over the world,
So there is an idea for you, Mr. Lombardi, and you should feel grateful that a victim would call you Mr. after everything the Catholic Church has done.
But don't claim the Church has done enough when in the exact same sentence you are again pointing the finger in a different direction. Stop passing the buck and claiming there are pedophiles everywhere so the Catholic Church is now going to solve the problem. Don’t expect anyone to give credibility to the Catholic Church as the one who can solve the problem, since you guys caused it in the first place. Start getting humble like your own spiritual founder said you should be, start admitting your guilt, start really helping the victims, not turning us into even angrier people by telling us the only way you'll talk to us is through attorneys.
“We are already active today in the pursuit of the most noble goals of your endeavours,” Lombardi writes.
According to National Catholic Reporter:
In comments to the media, McDaid and Bergeron were critical of the church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.
“No other institution would be permitted to protect its own management the way they do,” McDaid was quoted as saying.
Exactly. So why are you even wasting time trying to communicate with the management. They're criminals. It's time to put all the attention victims have on law enforcement. Start contacting U.S. Attorneys in your region, stop holding demonstrations outside Cathedrals and archdiocese offices and start leafleting U.S. Attorneys outside the restaurants where they eat dinner.
The public thinks we're all angry because a priest raped us as kids. No, we're angry that men like Cardinal Roger Mahony are allowed to retire with fanfare and dignity and make statements that influence national politics when throughout Mahony’s career, hundreds of priests carried on viva Flagrante with children and no matter how much the Archdiocese claims even under oath that he knew nothing about it, he knew. All the evidence and everything that happened proves – by SHEER LOGIC AND COMMON SENSE – you can’t run an organization with thousands of felonies going on under you and not know it.
The reason crime victims feel frustrated today is we still have not seen justice. Even that small percentage who have gotten reasonable cash settlements from lawsuits recently feel a sense of justice interruptus.
Something is not right. They got away with it. Why are the same bishops still in power? What's going on?
If you want to prove you really are a Christian organization, and not a corporate entity whose only intent is its own wealth and growth, then take a Christian step and really do something for the victims. Give us that property that is lying dormant all over the country to start a chain of recovery centers, run by Us, not the Catholic Church. A new foundation set up and run in total transparency with a board of directors that meets publicly and lets everyone know where the money is coming from and where it is going.
I know several very competent crime victims of your priests who need employment and would love to have the job of running these centers in their cities.
So, come on, Lombardi, now is your chance. Show us you really are listening to victims, not just press releases and PR advisors, us, the victims writing blogs and standing outside with signs, us.
Meanwhile, as Lombardi wrote in his letter, the Church may think it is an ally for victims of its pedophile priests but it will be a long time before I trust the Church to have anything to do with child abuse prevention.
Here is a sampling of coverage of the Protest Sunday at The Vatican by Survivors Voice.
(Here is Reuters Coverage: Victims of priest sex abuse protest near Vatican Excerpt: )
Some 75 victims and their supporters from the United States and several European countries had wanted to march to the Vatican with candles but were blocked by police because they did not have a permit.
"This is about responsibility," Gary Bergeron, one of the organisers of a group called Survivors Voice told the rally at Castel Sant' Angelo in the heart of Rome within sight of Saint Peter's Basilica some 500 metres away.
After negotiations with police, Bergeron and a woman were allowed to walk to the Vatican holding candles and enter St Peter's Square while the others were forced to stay behind...
Associated Press report:
By NICOLE WINFIELD
ROME (AP) - Italian paramilitary police blocked a boulevard leading to the Vatican to prevent a march Sunday by some 100 survivors of clergy sex abuse from reaching St. Peter's Square, but later allowed two protesters to leave letters from the abused at the Holy See's doorstep.
The two also left a dozen stones near the obelisk in St. Peter's square to mark a symbolic path so other survivors might know they have company in their suffering.
The candlelit protest was the first significant demonstration in the shadow of the Vatican by people who had been raped and molested by priests as children, and organizers said it would be repeated until the Holy See takes decisive action to ensure children are safe. ... ( continue reading )
Lombardi's letter from NCR Online:
VATICAN LETTER TO SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS
On the occasion of “Reformation Day”, organised by “Survivor’s Voice”
By Fr. Lombardi
The windows of my office at Vatican Radio are just a few metres away, and therefore it seems fitting to me to listen, and to make a tangible sign of our attention, to your meeting.
This intervention of mine is not an official one, but because of my deep insertion and identification with the Catholic Church and the Holy See, I believe I can express the feelings shared by many regarding the object of your manifestation.
In this, I feel encouraged by the attitude of the Pope, made manifest many times, that is, to listen to the victims, and show the will to do everything necessary, so that the horrible crimes of sexual abuse may never happen again.
I must say that, even though I do not share all of your declarations and positions, I find in many of these the elements on which one can develop a pledge, that will bring solidarity and consensus between us.
It is true that the Church must be very attentive so that the children and the young, who are entrusted to her educational activities, may grow in a completely secure environment.
Yesterday morning, a hundred thousand young people were present in these places for a great celebration of their faith and of their youthfulness, and they are but a small part of the youths who take part with trust and enthusiasm in the life of the Church community. We must absolutely ensure that their growth be healthy and serene, finding all the protection which is rightfully theirs. We all have a great responsibility with regards to the future of the youth of the world.
It is true that the procedures of investigation and of intervention must be ever swifter and more effective, whether from the Church or from the civil authorities, and that there must be a good collaboration between these two, in conformity to the laws and situations of the countries concerned.
I know, you think that the Church should do more, and in a quicker way. From my point of view – even though one may and should always do more – I am convinced that the Church has done, and is doing a lot. Not only the Pope, with his words and example, but many Church communities in various parts of the world have done and are doing a lot, by way of listening to the victims as well as in the matter of prevention and formation.
Personally, I am in contact with many persons who work in this field in many countries, and I am convinced that they are doing a lot. Of course, we must continue to do more. And your cry today is an encouragement to do more. But a large part of the Church is already on the good path. The major part of the crimes belongs to times bygone. Today’s reality and that of tomorrow are more beckoning. Let us help one another to journey together in the right direction.
But the more important thing that I wanted to say to you is the following, and I feel encouraged to say it, because it seems to me that you also are aware of it.
The scourge of sexual abuses, especially against minors, but also in a general way, is one of the great scourges of today’s world. It involves and touches the Catholic Church, but we know very well that what has happened in the Church is but a small part of what has happened, and continues to happen in the world at large. The Church must first free herself of this evil, and give a good example in the fight against the abuses within her midst, but afterwards, we must all fight against this scourge, knowing that it is an immense one in today’s world, a scourge which increases the more easily when it remains hidden; and many are indeed very happy that all the attention is focussed on the Church, and not on them, for this allows them to carry on undisturbed.
This fight must be fought by us together, uniting our forces against the spread of this scourge, which uses new means and ways to reach out today, helped in this by internet and the new forms of communication, by the crisis hitting families, by sexual tourism and traffic which exploit the poverty of the people in various continents.
What the Church has learnt in these years – prompted also by you and by other groups – and the initiatives that she can take to purify herself and be a model of security for the young, must be of use to all. For this, I invite you to look at the Church ever more as a possible ally, or – according to me – as an ally already active today in the pursuit of the most noble goals of your endeavours
To me the guy sounds
*Re Church losing assets to victims: Most cash settlements are covered by insurance companies, usually the insurance companies that protect the Church from lawsuits for its crimes are owned by the Church. The Vatican did not suffer a pittance by paying out cash settlements to victims.
So now I am expecting a phone call any minute. A deep Italian voice will be on the other end: "Hello, this is Federico Lombardi, and Miss Ebeling, you are right. We will start creating the recovery centers immediately."
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