Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chaos in the Cathedral Reflects Chaos in the Church

Catholic protesters in the cathedral of Osorno, Chile, trying to stop their new bishop from being ordained.

I just posted about what T. S. Eliot might have called Riot in the Cathedral, the situation in Osorno, Chile, where a mob of almost 1,000 protesters tried to stop their new bishop from being ordained.

In that post I mentioned the man who started this trouble, Fr. Karadima.

I just now discovered that Rod Dreher mentioned Karadima in an update to one of his posts in April of last year.  It's worth quoting this update in full, as well as the observations made by Adam DeVille that Rod includes on what it would take to reform this problem, and (by implication) why we've gotten to where we are.


Here are comments from links posted in the comments section. First, someone put up this essay by Lee Podles, the orthodox Catholic writer who has done deep investigation on the scandal. Excerpt:
Francis is a fixer. Whenever a parish or diocese experience a disaster, a fixer is sent in, as O’Malley was to Boston. Francis is the papal fixer. He is changing the subject from sexual abuse by his charm, hominess, and willingness to let people indulge their minor vices without a censoring voice from the clergy.
A fixer differs from a reformer in that a fixer does not address the roots; he is not radical. He merely papers over the problem, merely puts a poultice on the cancer.
Karadima is a terribly abusive priest in Chile. The archbishop of Santiago told him to stop saying mass in Public. Karadima ignored the order, and photos of him saying mass were tweeted to tens of thousands of people.
A prominent Chilean priest who was ordered by the Vatican to never again celebrate a public Mass as punishment for sexually abusing altar boys has been photographed apparently defying the order.
Chile’s top church leaders confirmed the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s act of insubordination Friday and sent the case to the Vatican for investigation. The photos were taken Dec. 4, but they were only released this week by Juan Carlos Cruz, a journalist and one of Karadima’s victims.
“It’s a very painful situation that shows that this priest continues to do as he pleases,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “It’s a slap in the face for the victims of his abuse. He should be in jail but instead he’s still being protected by the church.”
The Roman Catholic Church retains a firm grip on Chilean society, although in recent years its influence has waned after scandals in which priests have been accused of molesting children. Victims say Karadima began abusing them at his residence at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Santiago about 20 years ago, when they were between 14 and 17 years old.
The Vatican sanctioned Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer” in 2011. He was also barred from celebrating Mass in public, from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction and from having contact with his ex-parishioners. A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she determined the abuse allegations were truthful.
The timing of the photos’ release appeared aimed at embarrassing both the current and former archbishops of Santiago, who were in Rome for Saturday’s ceremony to name current Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal.
The victims in Chile say the retired archbishop, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, failed to act on accusations that they were abused by Karadima, who was long one of the country’s most popular priests. They say the cardinal declined to even meet them.
[Back to Podles:] Pope Francis’s response: he made Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal. This sends a clear message. The Vatican does not care how a bishop handles sexual abuse cases.
Francis has not appointed the sexual abuse commission he promised. I will be flabbergasted if he appoints anyone like Tom Doyle or Richard Sipe, someone who knows the problem from the inside.
This one is from an essay by the Byzantine Catholic writer and academic theologian Adam DeVille. Prof. DeVille says that the early canons of the Church are ruthless in their treatment of priests who engage in sexual sin — even consensual sexual sin with adults. They are removed from the clerical state. Boom, done. DeVille:
If the pope’s new commission wants or needs some advice, then I think the early canons provide it: any sexual sin is grounds for immediate and permanent dismissal from any and all offices in the Church, up to and including the episcopate. But more than this needs to happen, and here we do not need another commission: we need ruthless papal action, and friendly Francis may be precisely the person to deliver it with a fist of iron underneath his ermine glove.
For too many Catholics, the most infuriating aspect of the abuse scandal over the last 12 years and more has been the way in which bishops have escaped accountability, particularly bishops who shuffled priests around or did not act swiftly and decisively to root out the problem. Whose blood has not boiled at seeing Bernard Cardinal Law swan about his cushy sinecure at St. Mary Major in Rome? He should have been locked away in a rough cell in a monastery on an island in the White Sea, allowed out twice a day for Mass and scrubbing toilets. And a similar fate should today befall any bishop who covered up abuse or failed to remove abusive priests from the priesthood immediately and permanently. If Pope Francis’ new commission is to be effective and the Church is to put this scandal behind her once and for all, then let the sackings begin. Nothing short of this will be sufficient to regain the bishops’, and thus the Church’s, shattered credibility.

ADDENDUM: CNA is "reporting" (actually mis-reporting) on the situation in Chile, and I counter their spin in my latest post. 


Anonymous said...

As a new convert to the church it saddens me every time a story like this comes out. Sure, rates of abuse are apparently no differente in the public school system, and that is important to remember anytime someone makes a snarky jibe at celibacy. But that does not get at why we're letting these evil, irresponsible men and their enablers run around. Why are those in authority so afraid to use their power when necessary? Why are they so soft?


Phil Steinacker said...

Actually, the incidence of such abuse is consistently worse in every other religion or Christian tradition than it is in the Catholic Church.

It should surprise no one, though, that the absolute worst manifestation of the problem occurs in the public school systems throughout America, where it is so widespread that the lead investigator in a comprehensive 2005 study by the U.S. Dept of Education said that, compared to the Catholic Church, such occurrences in the public schools is 100 times greater.

Still, this is only an argument about relative differences, however huge. Nothing changes the gist of Kevin's position, which I support.

The Catholic Church needs to clean up its act. Weakness by Francis undermines the solid reforms taken by Benedict.

Anonymous said...

The question here is what Barros Madrid did or did not do. That is the question. Whether Karadima did things, or his then-bishop did or did not do things is not the question.

The questino is what did Barros-Madrid do? I believe three accused him of being there when Karadima abused them. Is this true? Or were these accusations effectively rebutted, by proving that Barros- Madrid could not have possibly been there, etc.

Let's focus on the real question.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't understand why you are heaping the sole blame on the Church for this. The Church has ordered the abusive priest not to exercise any priestly functions. What more could she possibly do, short of the technicality of "dismissing him from the clerical state". Even if she did this, he could still continue celebrating Mass in defiance of Church law. The Church does not have a police force to arrest him or gaolers to gaol him. If she tried to do so the State would charge her with kidnapping, false imprisonment and enslavement. Meanwhile the State has not lifted a finger to punish the abusive priest. Yet not one word of complaint that the State is too soft on him! As for the allegations that the new bishop somehow facilitated, approved or ignored the alleged crimes of this priest, they remain just that, totally unproven allegations. A fortiori for your snide innuendo (without the slightest evidence) that the new Cardinal of Santiago also had something to do with it.

Anonymous said...

The same applies to your innuendo about Cd Law. The Church punished him by sacking him from his position as one of the most powerful archbishops in the world, in charge of hundreds of priests, scores of Catholic institutions and a budget bigger than that of the Holy See itself, and demoting him to a position which far from a “cushy sinecure”, is equivalent to a mere parish priest in charge of nobody and with Vatican officials constantly looking over him. The State authorities in the USA have stated that they do not wish to charge Cd Law with any offence, or even to further question him about anything. I can understand why the actions of the secular authorities might possibly make your blood boil, but I fail to see why you should feel at all angry at the Church about the matter. The Church’s response has been perfectly appropriate and in line with her pioneering and long-standing zero-tolerance policy which most other institutions, corporations and States still have not yet imitated the Church’s example in implementing.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Ronk, you are confusing things I'm saying with things I'm quoting.

You are also asserting things about the situation in Chile that are not true. The state of Chile did not refuse or fail to prosecute Karadima. The Church stonewalled until the statue of limitations had expired, and the authorities were unable to get a conviction. The judge was adamant that Karadima was guilty but that her hands were tied. It was the bishop who was approached time and again with complaints about Karadima but refused to do anything about it until he could no longer be convicted.

Your final assertion that the Church behaves and continues to behave admirably in these matters is laughable and has been flat out contradicted over and over gain since the Scandal broke a dozen years ago or more. You are clearly an intelligent and caring person, Ronk, and I appreciate your comments here, but you could not be more out of touch with reality on this issue. And the thing is, if we don't admit the truth - the obvious truth that the rest of the world can see - we become a sort of anti-evangelist undoing much of the good Christ can do in the world.

I'm going to post today on the position Defensive Catholics take in regard to the elephant in the living room. Coming up with pleasant fictions in which the Church does no wrong is the most ineffective reaction to the Scandal, but seems to be becoming the method of choice.