Columns Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Will Pope Francis solve the abuse crisis?

Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, left as they arrive for a consistory at the Vatican on Feb. 13, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Tony Gentile

Since taking office five years ago, Pope Francis has carried the torch for progressive Catholic reform. His modest lifestyle and commitment to “a poor Church for the poor,” his emphasis on mercy, and his attacks on clericalism, have set him at odds with the doctrinaire and the traditionalist. By opening the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried, by speaking more about immigrants and climate change than abortion, he has revivified the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which brought the Church into the modern world in the 1960s.

But in confronting the biggest challenge to the Church’s credibility since the Reformation, the sexual abuse crisis, Francis stumbled badly. Indeed, he seemed for a while to be retreating from the relatively tough approach of his immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Benedict inherited a mess from the too suddenly sainted John Paul II, on whose watch the crisis got under way in the 1980s. John Paul made cardinals of prelates credibly charged with abuse, like Archbishop Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh and Theodore McCarrick of Washington, and he seemed to go out of his way to show favor to the publicly disgraced.

After Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in the face of revelations that he had been covering up abuse cases for years, John Paul appointed him to the position of archpriest of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Nor did he cease supporting Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, despite ample evidence that Maciel was a monster who had abused a long series of young legionaries.

John Paul did put responsibility for judging and defrocking priests accused of abuse in the hands of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, his chief theological enforcer as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). And when Ratzinger became Benedict, he forced Maciel into retirement and instituted a zero tolerance policy for abusers. He also made a practice of meeting with abuse victims on his trips abroad.

What Benedict did not do, however, was confront the central issue of the crisis—the covering up and thus the perpetuation of abuse by church leaders. For those with eyes to see, it was evident that unless the Vatican made clear by word and disciplinary action and judicatory process that this would not be tolerated, the crisis would continue.

The next pontificate got off to a promising start in this regard. In his first year in office, Francis created a Commission for the Protection of Minors, and put in charge Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, one of his trusted eight cardinal advisors, whose record of addressing abuse was without peer among high Catholic prelates.

In 2015, Francis accepted the resignations of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph and John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, both of whom were found to have covered up abuse. The same year, he approved the Commission’s recommendation that a tribunal be established to hold negligent bishops accountable.

But also in 2015 these positive moves were undermined by Francis’ appointment of Juan Barros Madrid as bishop of the Diocese of Osorno in southern Chile. Barros had been widely condemned in the country as one of a number of Chilean Church officials who protected Fernando Karadima, a charismatic priest whom the CDF found guilty of child abuse in 2011. Indeed, members of the Chilean hierarchy urged against Barros’ appointment.

Over the next couple of years, the Vatican effort to solve the crisis hit a wall. The CDF found unspecified “legal” difficulties with the proposed tribunal and so it was never implemented. The two abuse victims on the Commission resigned in frustration.

Citing “lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance,” one of the two, Marie Collins, wrote in March of last year, “The most significant problem has been reluctance of some members of the Vatican Curia to implement the recommendations of the Commission despite their approval by the pope.”

Then, last January, Francis went to Chile. While apologizing for the behavior of abusive priests, he drew sharp criticism for appearing publicly with Barros. On the plane ride home, he went so far as to call the accusations against the bishop “calumny.”

“I cannot condemn him, I have no evidence, and I am convinced that he is innocent,” Francis told reporters.

But rather than dig in his heels, the pope responded to the ensuing outrage by ordering up an investigation from Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, the long-time Vatican judicial official who had earned his spurs by getting the goods on Maciel. Scicluna returned in April with a 2,300-page report that provided all the evidence Francis needed to remove Barros—and to recognize that he had been given bad advice on the case, presumably by his old friend on the council of cardinal advisors, retired Archbishop of Santiago Francisco Javier Errázuriz.

“I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.” Francis wrote in a letter to the Chilean bishops. He proceeded to meet with a number of Karadima’s victims, reportedly telling them, “I was part of the problem, I caused this and I apologize to you.”

If any pope in history has ever made such an admission of error, I’m not aware of it.

What followed was a three-day emergency summit in May with all of the Chilean bishops, at the end of which they en masse offered to resign. Thus far, Francis has accepted the resignations of five of them, including Barros. To Chilean Catholics he wrote a letter decrying their Church’s “culture of abuse and cover-up.”

In the past week, Francis has also accepted the resignations of McCarrick, recently revealed as a serial abuser, from the College of Cardinals and of Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who was convicted of covering up abuse last month. To complete the object lesson, more housecleaning at the top will have to happen. The 84-year-old Errázuriz must be taken off the pope’s cardinals council, as must Cardinal George Pell of Melbourne, now facing criminal trial in Australia on multiple abuse charges.

But most importantly, Francis needs to create a regular judicial process to deal with bishops accused of abuse as well as covering up or otherwise mishandling abuse cases. On July 24, Cardinal O’Malley himself issued a statement calling on the Vatican to establish “clearer procedures for cases involving bishops.”

Along with the papally approved but unborn tribunal for assuming this responsibility, there has been talk over the past couple of years of moving abuse cases out of the CDF and speeding them up. In the curial reform that Francis has promised, why not a new office (“dicastry,” in Vatican-speak) dedicated to adjudicating the entirety of abuse cases?

The obvious person to take this on is Archbishop Scicluna. Make him a cardinal and give him the job of drafting the procedures, hiring the personnel, and running the show. There’s no better way for Francis to demonstrate that he’s serious about exorcising the culture of abuse and cover-up. There’s no other way for the Church to put the abuse scandal behind it.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

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  • “The too suddenly sainted John Paul II” is such a good phrase.

    As the story about McCarrick’s abominable behavior, which was known to the very top levels of the Vatican, has become public, we have had to face all over again the fact that

    1) Saint John Paul the Great is the pope who made McCarrick a cardinal,

    2) And Saint John Paul the Great protected Marcial Maciel, knowing full well who/what he was protecting.

    Santo non subito!

  • To “solve” the abuse “crisis”, the first step is to actually *want* to “solve” it. And the second step is to define what, exactly, “solve” means.

    In fact, the church will NEVER solve this crisis, because it regards the church as more important than the members. (I remember being taught that “the church *is* the people”.)

    “Solving” can only occur when the church makes four things clear to every member of the church, clergy and lay folks, and actually starts doing these two things:

    1. Credible allegations of abuse will be investigated with a strong emphasis on honesty.
    2. Abusers will be prosecuted in civil courts, since abuse is a crime in civil society.
    3. Clergy members, it is IMPOSSIBLE to cover-up these crimes. You might cover up for a month, a year, 5 years, but eventually the truth will come out, and when it does it will be much worse for the church than if you revealed the truth when you learned the allegations..
    4. Covering up is almost as bad as committing the abuse.

  • RE the Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended a tribunal to deal with holding bishops accountable when they cover up sexual abuse. “The CDF found unspecified ‘legal’ difficulties with the proposed tribunal and so it was never implemented.”

    In Vaticanese, “legal” refers to Canon Law. So there is some problem, some conflict in Canon Law with holding bishops accountable. It may be that they were actually following Canon Law when they covered up child sex abuse, as has been suggested by some who have studied Canon Law. Read “Potiphar’s Wife” by Kieran Tapsell or any number of articles here, there and yonder on the “pontifical secret.” It may also be that there is simply not enough specificity in Canon Law to make a cover-up a crime or enough leeway to impose punishment that suits the crime.

    Regardless, Pope Francis is one of the last few autocrats on the planet. Within his own realm he can change the law. Now I appreciate that he would have to be very careful and would need lots of advice. The question is – does he have anyone working on this? Or, does he want to keep it loosey-goosey for a while to avoid holding accountable a huge number of bishops who are still living and still in office who did, in fact, cover-up sex abuse because that was what many bishops in every country around the world did – the covered it up?

  • The pope is a central part of the problem.

    When will most people get it…when he famously said “who am I to judge?”, he really (really) meant it.

  • He made McCarrick a Cardinal based the information he got from a set of light stepping Cardinals, drawn in and groomed by Spellman and his boys.

  • You don’t have to be particularly astute to understand what the “unspecified ‘legal’ difficulties” were to prosecuting bishops under canon law. As the Australian Royal Commission pointed out, the pontifical secret over all allegations of child sexual abuse and all information obtained through canonical processes still applies where there is no applicable civil reporting law. In other words, canon law still requires a cover up of child sexual abuse in those circumstances. In the case of the three bishops forced to resign in the United States, Nienstedt, Piche and Finn, all three of them, quite apart from breaching the civil law, had also breached canon law by not reporting to the civil authorities.Canon law for the United States since 2002 required them to comply with civil reporting laws. A bishop cannot be punished under canon law for covering up child sexual abuse in circumstances where canon law requires him to cover it up. That’s the “legal difficulty”, which Pope Francis can change with the stroke of his pen, but strangely seems reluctant to do it.

  • I think that the abuse problem will not really go away until the ever-present issue of clericalism is dealt with. As long as the governing structure of the Church remains monarchical, I believe that abuse of power will continue. I think that the child abuse cover-up is only one of the uglier manifestations of the abuse of power.

  • Yes, it is quite strange that the pontifical secret has not been abrogated, most specifically as it applies to sexual abuse. That would appear to be a rather straightforward step.

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has approved the publication of the grand jury report. This will be an opportunity for the Pope to do more than just go through the motions. Or perhaps he will be too busy focusing on the death penalty issue. Odd that he should take such an interest in the death penalty issue just as so much is hitting the fan with respect to the abuse issue.

  • “….Pope Francis can change with the stroke of his pen,….”

    JP 1 was on the verge of using his pen also. We know how that turned-out.

    It’s not for no reason that Francesco resides and dines en masse.

  • It is difficult to see how publication of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report “will be an opportunity for the Pope to do more than just go through the motion”.

  • The Holy Father currently deals with 5,500 bishops, at the time McCarrick was made Cardinal a bit less.

    That means there are multiple filters between the Pontiff and the facts, and McCarrick and his friends were consummate politicians and manipulators.

    McCarrick tipped his hand in 2004 when he suppressed the letter from the CDF (written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) so he could steer the American episcopal conference into a meaningless mushy statement on politicians and abortion.

    But by that time it was too late.

    He was part of the same group as Bernardin, Bishop John Russell, Rembert Weakland, Bishop Daniel L. Ryan, Bishop Patrick Ziemann, Bishop Anthony O’Connell, Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, and Bishop J. Keith Symons – all closeted, facilitated by Bishop Kenneth Utener, Bishop Walter Sullivan,Bishop Tom Gumbleton, Bishop Joseph Imesch, Roger Cardinal , Bishop Matthew Clark, Bishop Howard Hubbard, and Bishop John Cummins.

    In addition to that you had and have a phalanx embedded in the bureaucracies of the various dioceses and the USCCB.

  • The Australian Royal Commission would be considered in any country with due process and a government neutral to religion as a Kangaroo Court.

    Canon law does NOT require a cover-up of child sexual abuse.

    It never has.

  • The evidence to support your implication in (2) is zip.

    Someone or other also made Judas an Apostle.

  • The governing structure of the Church, assuming for a moment Vaticans I and II weren’t kidding and Lumen Gentium means anything, is inherently hierarchical.

    As long as any power exists power will be abused.

    That’s the reality of the human component of any organization.

  • Bob, you could not have read anything that I have written on this subject because you would have known immediately that I am not a woman.

  • Australia does observe due process and so did the Royal Commission. In making its findings on canon law, the Royal Commission did what the Code said it should do, and looked at the practice of the Roman Curia as a guide to interpretation. Cardinals Castrillon and Re, Archbishops Bertone and Herranz and Professor Ghirlanda made it very clear between 1997 and 2002 that reporting priest sex abusers to the civil authorities was not consistent with canon law. None of those canon lawyers have resiled from that view.

  • The Royal Commission:

    – did not observe due process. The accused were not permitted to cross examine witnesses, were not permitted to refute. As soon as the ambulance-chasing American Thomas P. Doyle was treated as an “expert” it was obvious the conclusions were foregone when it was conceived.

    Australia has a long history of anti-Catholicism from its foundation with some of the worst elements of the established Church, through decades of anti-Irish bigotry, to the present, and it shows.

    – What Castrillon, Bertone, Herranz, and Ghirlanda made very clear is that the Church’s internal proceedings and the contents of confessions are off limits to civil authorities.

    Canon Law requires, the 1917 Code of Canon Law required, that a bishop who had evidence of a crime committed by a cleric of any rank obtained outside of a privileged source – e.g., confession – in a country where the civil authorities had a functioning judiciary – e.g., not North Korea – was to report that crime.

    In the United States dioceses which did that, for example the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, experienced zero lawsuits and zero problems.

    Bishops in the USA who took upon themselves to disregard Canon Law by sending offenders off for “counseling” and so on suffered the consequences.

  • In the face of compelling evidence that Pope Saint John Paul the Great knew full well who and what Marcial Maciel was, and protected him, it’s amazing that the Opus Dei wing of Catholicism still thinks lying will carry the day and erase that sordid history.

    And that lying is a viable way to build the kingdom of God. But this approach to serving God seems to be inbuilt in the Opus Dei system, doesn’t it?

    Catherine Pepinster, “An unseemly, unwise haste to canonise John Paul II”:

    Could John Paul not have known about the rumours and allegations swirling around Maciel? It may well be that as his infirmity increased, his aides limited access to information. And plenty of people can now attest to how they have been duped by apparent good, kind and charming people who have turned out to lead double lives. But certainly, there was more than an inkling about Maciel, well before ill-health struck John Paul. Evidence has emerged of Maciel’s abuse of seminarians as long ago as the 1940s. An American bishop sent detailed evidence from a former Legion priest to Rome through official channels on three occasions. Nothing happened. Meanwhile the cash flowed into the Vatican’s coffers from Maciel’s wealthy friends.

    By 2004, Jason Berry and the late Gerald Renner had exposed his double life in their book and documentary Vows of Silence. The following year, Maciel stood down from running the Legionaries, and just days before the death of John Paul, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was speaking of the “filth in the church”, widely interpreted as meaning child abusers in general and quite possibly Maciel in particular. It took Ratzinger just a year following his election as Pope Benedict XVI to discipline Maciel and invite him to a life of penitence and prayer.

    Two years later, Maciel died, and since then further revelations have been made – of his rampant paedophilia, his drug taking, his financial scandals, his keeping of two mistresses, his fathering of several children, two of whom he abused. Last year Pope Benedict announced a commission to overhaul the Legionaries while the language used about Maciel himself by the Vatican – “immoral”, “devoid of scruples” was notably tough in its denunciation.

    This is the darkest chapter in the paedophilia scandal. But it’s more than that: it’s also a story of how money can gain you access and power in the church, and how fear of scandal continues to be one of the strongest sentiments in Rome, leading to cover-up. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has spoken of the then Cardinal Ratzinger struggling against the odds to tackle child abuse. Nothing speaks more loudly than how he was blocked by other powerful Vatican figures than the way he moved against Maciel as soon as he was in charge.

    The Maciel saga is a distasteful backdrop to a canonisation that could well become another Vatican PR own goal.

  • “In the face of compelling evidence ….” which you have not provided, and which your url fails to provide, we can conclude you have a personal axe to grind.

  • I agree, canon law required that the Church’s “internal proceedings” – including the allegation (the “extrajudicial denunciation”) – were off limits to the civil authorities. The Church’s knowledge of a civil crime came firstly from an allegation from a victim and then the Church’s internal investigation of it. That was invariably how the Church knew about the abuse, not through sacramental confession. You have just confirmed that canon law required a cover up. Prior to 1917, there were decrees of 4 Church Councils and 3 popes that required clergy sexual abusers to be stripped of their status as priests and to be handed over to the civil authorities. The 1917 Code abrogated them all, and then in 1922 Crimen Sollicitationis imposed the secret of the Holy Office on all such information. Paul VI expanded the secrecy in 1974 to include even the allegation with his pontifical secret. The Church submitted a report by its own canon lawyer to the Royal Commission, none of which disputed the history as I have just stated it. Unsurprisingly the Commission found that the pontifical secret still requires a cover up and recommended its abolition. Judicial inquiries in the United States in 2003 and Ireland in 2009 also found that the Church’s secrecy laws contributed to the cover up. As a matter of interest, which canon of the 1917 Code required reporting abuse to the civil authorities?

  • I confirmed that Canon Law protects the proceedings within the Church from the civil authorities, not that Canon Law required a “cover-up”, to ensure the complete integrity of the ecclesiastical process, without which it could not obtain witnesses, provide clerics due process, and would effectively become agents for the state.

    While this sort of thing may be considered acceptable in a nation which imported the Church of England while it was at its most anti-Catholic and sustained it long after the mother Church came to its senses, to most Western sensibilities it smacks of the Gestapo and Elizabeth I.

    To American sensibilities the notion of a government agency or instrumentality presuming to dictate internal policies to a religious body is abhorrent.

    “Cover-up” is your spin to sell books, to attack the Catholic Church, and to obtain speaking fees and travel monies along with Thomas P. Doyle and the other former Catholics milking the dissident circuit.

    The 1917 Code abrogated thousands of decrees in order to organize Canon Law for the first time in several centuries. There was nothing nefarious about it.

    That the Church submitted a report by its own canon lawyer to the Royal Commission, which did not dispute the history is no surprise. The history is actually rather boring and completely mundane.

    It is the spin you’ve put on it as though it were some diabolical plot that is disputable. In fact, it is unmitigated hogwash.


    “The 1917 Code abrogated them all …”.

    The Pio-Benedictine Code (1917 Code of Canon Law) was the first comprehensive codification of Latin canon law. Prior to that the only comprehensive codification was Gratian’s “Decretum” (1150).

    Legislation was passed ad hoc over time, some of it became obsolete, apparent contradictions crept in, and it became difficult to ascertain the most current and relevant law on a particular question.

    During the first Vatican Council bishops of different countries petitioned for a new compilation, clear and easily studied, but since that Council never finished its work nothing was done. At the time of Council legislation included at least 10,000 decrees, difficult to reconcile with one another. Most included “preliminary considerations” explaining what occasioned the legislation.

    On May 14, 1904, Pius X setup a commission to reduce these documents to a single systematic form of short canons with the motu proprio “Arduum sane munus” (A Truly Arduous Task) stripped of the preliminary considerations and omitting superseded legislation. The Catholic universities of the world and the bishops of all countries were asked to cooperate.

    The Commission for the Codification of Canon Law completed this work under Benedict XV who promulgated the Code, effective in 1918. It was a massive effort, involving not only canons but other codes from the Codex of Justinian to the Napoleonic Code.

    The new code was completed in 1916, promulgated on May 27,1917, Pentecost Sunday, and come into force May 19, 1918.

    Shortly after promulgating the 1917 code, Benedict XV promulgated the motu proprio “Cum Iuris Canonici” forbidding the Roman Congregations from issuing new general decrees unless it was necessary to do so, and then doing so only after consulting the Pontifical Commission charged with amending the code to prevent a future devolvement into the situation in the 19th century.

    Translations from Latin were forbidden to ensure that interpretive disputes among scholars and canonists would be resolved in the Latin in which the Code was written itself.

    So, there was nothing nefarious about “the 1917 Code abrogat(ing) them all”.

    Every single canon that was not included in the Pio-Benedictine Code was abrogated.

    Since the pre-code canons exceeded 10,000(!), and the finished codification numbered 2,414, approximately 8,000 canons were abrogated.

    That code, and the current one, can be accessed here:

    The 1917 Code is in Latin only, the current 1983 Code in both Latin and English, and there is crosswalk between the two since most of the 1917 canons have counterparts in the 1983 Code. In addition the commentaries for the 1983 Code generally include relevant commentary on the 1917 Code since decisions under that Code are generally good case law.

  • The largest buik of abuse problems come from same sex attracted priests, bishops, cardinals, and likely a pope. He’s not going to solve any such thing.

    Francis was pushed upward to not solve it, but to let it go on a bit longer, before God has enough of it and cleans out His Church again. ‘

    The buggertists are in charge.

  • What does Opus Dei have to do with Maciel? Nothing. One is of Spanish origin; the other Mexican!

    But it’s a handy whipping boy for the light stepping ignorant left, who fashion themselves intellects!

  • You are just making stuff up for attention, to make yourself feel better about your own repressed homosexual urges.

  • No, referencing FACTS from the USCCB, again, which you don’t want to face. ostrich.

  • That’s always the claim.

    The burden is on what’s his name to differentiate maciel from the other groups he ignorantly smears.

  • I can agree with virtually all of that, but you still have not told me which canon of the 1917 Code “required that a bishop who had evidence of a crime committed by a cleric of any rank obtained outside of a privileged source – e.g., confession – in a country where the civil authorities had a functioning judiciary – e.g., not North Korea – was to report that crime.” I am always willing to be better informed.

  • No, you’re really not.

    What you’re really interested in is selling additional copies of “Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican’s Secret and Child Sexual Abuse”, getting additional gigs on the dissident talking circuit, additional opportunities to write articles in the dissident media like National Catholic Reporter, and so on.

    We have a plethora of the same kinds here in the USA: former Catholic priest Thomas P. Doyle, alleged canon law “expert”, Patricia Miller, former Catholic employee of Catholics for Choice, and so on.

    In any case, start at Canon 2359 of the 1917 “Codex Iuris Canonici”:

    If your Latin is rusty, John J. Coughlin at the Notre Dame Law School has already laid out the baby steps for you:

    The time, of course, to do this research was before you adopted an erroneous position, but better late then never.

  • I’m not going to trade invective with you. Your allegations about my motives are simply untrue.
    Canon 2359 of the 1917 Code is summarised in the report of Rodger Austin JCD on behalf of the Church to the Royal Commission: “In the 1917 Code of Canon Law if clerics committed sexual abuse of a minor, canon 2359 §2 provided that a penalty could be imposed upon them taking into account the facts of the case, but ‘in the more serious cases they shall be deposed’”. As Austin pointed out the Canon 1395 of the 1983 Code provides for dismissal rather than deposition.
    I am very familiar with Coughlin’s article, having first downloaded it in 2013 one year before I published the book. Coughlin’s argument is that the bishops did not apply canon law to impose canonical penalties such as dismissal on abusive priests. Cafardi in Before Dallas has a contrary opinion, in that bishops were inhibited particularly by canon 1341 from doing so.
    Neither canon 2359 of the 1917 Code, nor Coughlin’s article supports your claim that a bishop who had evidence of a crime outside of confession was required by canon law to report it to the civil authorities.

  • You can’t trade invective with me.

    Your behavior implies your motives – as a former “judge” you know that full well.

    I have no profit motive nor am I selling anything else such as appearances or articles. My motives are simply trying to ascertain the facts.

    You would never have written the book if you had not erroneously concluded on the content and purposes of the Code of Canon Law.

    Yes, Rodger Austin JCD is correct that the – insofar as penalties WITHIN the Church itself are considered – the maximum penalty is dismissal and laicization. The Church no longer has prisons or the means of execution.

    The entire thrust of Canon Law is the accomplishment of justice.

    Your spin turns that on its head.

  • There is little point in continuing this discussion if you can’t point to the canon in the 1917 Code that required reporting to the civil authorities. Thank you for your response.

  • “Find the Canon which says ‘reporting xyz to the civil authorities, period” and disregard both context and numerous authoritative interpretations of other others canons that require it.”

    I take it you were a barrister and judge dealing with patent or copyright law.

    Here’s where things stand.

    In Australia, a country with a high degree of gullibility and a vicious strain of anti-Catholicism, we get:

    “A canon law specialist says Catholic bishops in Australia are still obliged to not report child sexual abuse to authorities in jurisdictions without mandatory reporting laws.”

    “A confidential instruction from the pope in 1922 directed bishops to treat canonical crimes such as ‘obscene acts with animals’, ‘solicitation of sex during confession’, and ‘gravely sinful offences perpetrated against children’ with the utmost secrecy.”

    “’And that secrecy has been confirmed, continued by every pope since, including the current one, Pope Francis,’ said Kieran Tapsell, an expert witness on a 2017 royal commission panel on canon law.”

    I am not sure on what you’re an “expert”, but it is certainly not Canon Law.

    Here in the USA, where for the most part folks – with some exceptions that show up in these discussions – are a bit less credulous (except of course in politics) and we have a First Amendment protecting religious beliefs and practices we get:

    from an actual practicing Canon lawyer, which makes clear the purpose (citing the 1983 Code, but applicable to the past, even beyond the 1917 Code of Canon Law) of the Canons:

    a) to preserve due process in a canonical proceeding;

    b) to preserve the Church, the accused’s, and the witnesses privacy in a purely ecclesiastical process;

    c) to prevent the state from attempting to make the Church a police agency on behalf of the civil authorities.

    “Before pouncing on the existence of secret archives in order to accuse the Catholic Church of ‘hiding criminal activity’ or ‘protecting child molestors,’ detractors should note that any large secular business in the first world today keeps its personnel records confidential too. It is impossible for somebody to walk in off the street and demand access to documents relating to (let’s say) the firing of an employee from the Coca-Cola Company or the Xerox Corporation. Employees have rights, and companies have both the right and the obligation – moral and often legal – to keep personnel matters private.”

    An additional relevant article:

    So, to summarize where this will go is that you will sell some more books, write some more articles for the dissident media, give a few more speeches for the superannuated groups like “Catholic Faithful”, grow old, pass away, and be forgotten.

    The anti-Catholic forces in Australia will continue harassing and blaming “Micks” with a variety of completely ridiculous laws:

    that no one will observe and will be unenforceable without video and audio recording and government ID requirements for confessionals, unless and until folks come to their senses or it goes to the UN as the human rights violations that they are.

    The Catholic Church will change not one jot or tittle of its Canon Law to address the Australian “recommendations”.

    Decades from now if “Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican’s Secret and Child Sexual Abuse” shows up anywhere it will be in the same list as Maria Monk’s 1836 “Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk” or “The Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed” of zany anti-Catholic screeds that were once taken seriously.

  • You should understand that when areguing anything with the Mouth of Bob, the king and the god of BobWorld, you are always beginning with a handicap: he is always right and knows everything, you’re not and you don’t.

  • It’s not in his interest to “solve it”

    In order to enact his form of relativism/modernism…he needs the lavendar lobby who put him in office. He either is desparate for his agenda…or they have pictures.

  • Thanks for the warning. I should have realized it was pointless from the invective right at the beginning.

  • Absolutely.

    When you began with the premise 1 + 1 = 3, your “discussion” prospects were slim indeed.

  • I see you’re still licking your wounds and feeling sorry for yourself.

    If you say “1 + 1 = 3”, you can expect disputation.

    For example, if you assert “minority rights”, and then cannot source them in anything at all, your argument more or less grinds to a halt.

    You attempted to source them in a majority vote, but when you realized that left them open to a majority override, and had already rejected natural law, you ran out of steam.

    And there it sits months later.

    Mr. Tapsell, who dusted off some silliness and managed to get it into a record of a kangaroo court proceeding proposed by a devout atheist in a country devoutly anti-Catholic, started off with his version of 1 + 1 = 3.

    When that was pointed out, he ran out of steam.

    Yes, facts talk and bs walks.

  • “As soon as the ambulance-chasing American Thomas P. Doyle was treated as an ‘expert’….”

    a curriculum vitae for doyle includes :

    education :
    a pontifical licentiate in canon law from st. paul university (ottawa)
    a pontifical doctorate in canon law from catholic university of america .

    service as an officer in the u.s. air force from 1986 to 2004 .

    teaching jigs at :
    catholic theological union at chicago,
    catholic university of america,
    midwestern tribunal institute of mundelein seminary .

    a tribunal judge for :
    archdiocese of chicago,
    diocese of scranton,
    diocese of pensacola/tallahassee
    archdiocese of military services .

    doyle, in a report he wrote in 1985 on pedophilia among the clergy warned of scandal if the hierarchy did not introduce sound policy .

    bob often talks loud for what he believes, shoots from the hip, rarely hits even nearby barn walls .

  • I haven’t “walked.” I agree with you that there is little point in having a discussion with someone whose premise is 1 + 1 = 3. I asked you twice to point to the Canons in the 1917 Code of. Canon Law which required reporting of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. You were unable to do so. That’s 1 + 1 = 3. There is also no point having a discussion with anyone whose response to an argument is personal insults towards all those who think differently.

  • This is not an issue of thinking differently.

    This is an issue of being accurate.

    And you’re not.

    You clearly are unfamiliar with Canon Law, the actual purposes of the Canons, the obligation to report crimes, the situations in which you would not (e.g., there is no legitimate civil authority).

    You have fabricated out of whole cloth (and a “need” to keep a clamp on the “Micks”) a demand for a Canon to “report crimes to the civil authorities” when the consensus of Canon lawyers is that the 1917 Code required that, along with the moral requirement to respect and obey legitimate civil authority.

    It would seem fair if you’re going to be selling books and speeches spinning this conspiracy theory that you inform your readers of the history of your disagreement with the Catholic Church, which like Thomas P. Doyle’s is both longer and broader than your Canon law campaign.