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NY clergy sex abuse may be sweeping but legal cases few

In this May 15, 2018, file photo, acting New York state Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood speaks to lawmakers evaluating a dozen candidates to succeed former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he resigned amid domestic abuse allegations, during interviews in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y. Underwood’s appointment to serve as state attorney general through year’s end was approved May 22, 2018, and her office said Aug. 17, 2018, it is exploring teaming up with local district attorneys to conduct an investigation of child sex abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses like Pennsylvania's that uncovered widespread abuse in six dioceses statewide. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York attorney general’s new investigation into clergy sex abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Church could be sweeping, delving into confidential church files in a state where hundreds of people have already made claims through programs run by the church itself.

But few criminal cases or lawsuits may come out of the inquiry, whatever its findings. New York has some of the nation’s strictest time limits on taking child sex abuse claims to civil or criminal courts. A yearslong campaign to extend the time frame has stalled in the Legislature.

And even if it succeeds, at least 375 people who have settled abuse claims through church-run compensation programs waived any right to sue.

Still, investigations by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and her colleagues in several other states could be valuable to victims just by bringing information to light, said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania legal expert on child sexual abuse and the founder of Child USA, an advocacy group.

“It’s a way of educating the public on how severe the problem is” and informing lawmakers’ debates on extending legal time limits, she said. “The public education and the public accountability is what we need, so there’s value in (the investigations). But there’s not a straight line to justice for the victims.”

New York and New Jersey opened new investigations Thursday (Sept. 6) into the church’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against clergy. Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri also have started inquiries in the three weeks since a Pennsylvania grand jury report found that since the 1940s, about 300 Catholic priests had abused a total of more than 1,000 children statewide.

The report, which accused senior church officials of systematically covering up the abuse, reignited outrage and national discussion of how the church has dealt with the issue. But it yielded new criminal charges against just two priests because of legal time clocks.

In Pennsylvania, prosecutors have until an accuser’s 50th birthday to file charges of child sex abuse, while accusers have until their 30th birthdays to sue.

New York’s limits are tighter: the accuser’s 23rd birthday, in both civil and criminal cases. There’s no time limit for prosecuting some major child sex crimes, but only if they occurred after 2000.

A measure that would raise the age for future cases — and open a one-year window for lawsuits that have been barred by the current age limits — is at an impasse amid opposition from the church, as well as other large institutions.

They fault the proposal for not including public schools or other public institutions, and they say opening that “look-back window” could be financially devastating: Catholic dioceses paid $1.2 billion in legal settlements after a similar law passed in California in 2002.

The New York proposal, called the Child Victims Act, has passed the Democratic-majority state Assembly, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the idea. But it has been blocked from a vote by the state Senate’s Republican leaders. They have broached a plan to address future age limits only.

Steve Jimenez, a leading advocate for the Child Victims Act, said the attorney general’s new civil investigation makes the legislation all the more urgent.

“We must change the law,” he said. “And we will not give up until we do.”

Jimenez, who says a Roman Catholic brother repeatedly assaulted him when he was a child attending Catholic school in Brooklyn, said he and other supporters will be back in Albany when lawmakers reconvene in January to keep up the pressure. Underwood also has urged the Legislature to pass the law.

But it’s unclear how willing Senate leaders are to budge. Senate GOP spokeswoman Candice Giove noted Friday that Republicans have put forward their own proposals on the issue, “and we look forward to holding meaningful conversations that finally get results.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that while the investigation may fuel calls to allow lawsuits over decades-old claims, the archdiocese established its own, private compensation program “because it was the right thing to do.”

The 278 people who have received a total of nearly $59.8 million through the program waived their right to sue, though they are free to speak about their experiences if they choose.

A similar compensation program in the Diocese of Albany has provided over $9 million in direct compensation and counseling assistance to about 100 people, according to spokeswoman Mary DeTurris Poust.

In March, the Diocese of Buffalo released a list of 42 priests facing sex abuse allegations.

Church leaders have vowed to work with Underwood in her investigation.

(Klepper reported from Albany, N.Y. Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.)

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Jennifer Peltz

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David Klepper

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  • So the office formerly held by Eliot Spitzer, serial adulterer, and Eric Schneiderman, serial sex abuser, is going to investigate abuse by Catholic priests. All right. New York should proceed. But at a certain point, our society might want to turn the spotlight inward and ask whether we are actively promoting the attitudes and behaviors that have enabled the abuse crisis.

    Have we grown immune to the kind of introspection that once served as a moral compass, only now to act surprised at finding our ship of state off course? The people we elect, the people we admire, the people we enable, say something about us, as well as them.

  • The fact that there will be few if any criminal prosecutions just proves how successful the bishops’ strategy – hide and delay, hide and delay – has been. Truly the Holy Spirit at work on behalf of Her chosen ones.

  • Unfortunately for the “It’s the Catholic Church” script, the very same forces at work have produced the very same results in multiple milieus.

    Very few of them, the Catholic Church being an exception, have adopted a comprehensive and effective strategy to curb abuse.

    Unpunished evil acts are the norm, not the exception, in the world.

  • While I would like to see the investigations of the Catholic dioceses continue, I do wish some state would open an intensive investigation of all institutions, including public schools, clubs, sports organizations, other religious institutions, and family child sex abuse. The problem is not just in the Catholic Church and we need to step forward as a society to identify and acknowledge the depth of sex abuse. We need to set up an environment where children are given information to watch for and identify abuse and families, civil authorities, and members of institutions have the training to be on the look-out for signs of abuse occurring.

    I also think the Catholic church needs to come clean about past instances of abuse or suspected abuse because this dribble, dribble revelation over all these years brings continuous shock and dismay. We have a horrible past we haven’t dealt with. I think the present and future are much safer for children within Catholic institutions, at least in this country now. But we can’t and shouldn’t rest on any present safety while so many victims of prior abuse have not received civil or institutional justice.

    More, the Catholic Church has a real problem of keeping hidden that which should not be hidden from members of their parishes and a real problem in dealing with civil law and civil law enforcement in the jurisdictions in which they operate. We cannot exempt religious institutions that operate in our localities and states from not just obeying laws, but participating with their communities in supporting civil society and civil law enforcement. I am not yet convinced that our bishops recognize the duty they have as citizens is also important in forming a just society.

  • Whether that which is hidden ought not to be depends what we’re talking about and who we’re talking about.

    Fueling the vile gossip machines at places like National Catholic Reporter or The Remnant does no one any good.

    If Canon Law is followed, and in the USA the 2002 guidelines, there should be no problems at all dealing with civil law and law enforcement.

  • “there should be no problem”. But then, there is or was an enormous problem, as investigation after investigation has shown. More, Bob, if bishops failed to follow Canon Law and we now have all this horror being “discovered” because Canon Law was not followed, why haven’t all those priests and bishops been removed? Why all the decades of silence from JPII, BXVI, and even Francis on the role of bishops in covering up? My suspicion is that there are holes in Canon Law that mean bishops who covered up did not fail Canon Law requirements, so they can’t be held “accountable” under Canon Law.

    One more thought, Bob. If “there should be no problem” why did it take a Grand Jury investigation – again – to get the truth revealed? Why can’t parishioners trust their bishops to tell them about past abusers? Why can’t we lay people with families and children trust bishops, Bob? We can’t trust the Vatican to do anything about sex abusing cardinals or bishops – they keep their titles, the “eminence” of the cardinal or the “excellence” of the archbishop – after showing they do not live up to either quality.

    It is time for some real change in the Church – an accountability to the laity and some lay oversight. We can’t afford not to – because it is our children at risk.

  • Hi, ATF- Here in Italy, we outlawed capital punishment in 1889, though the Fascists brought it back again for a while. I generally favor the abolition of capital punishment. But I wonder if we shouldn’t permit the public punishment and/or execution of serial child molesters and, perhaps, the confinement of their enablers to the stocks, strategically placed outside parochial schools.

    Don’t cross an Italian mama.

  • “But then, there is or was an enormous problem, as investigation after investigation has shown.”

    Going back 70 years. Current indications are that there has been a plunge since 2002.

    The reason “…why haven’t all those priests and bishops been removed?” is the same reason there are few indictments: the clergy are dead, the abused are dead, both are dead, or there is no evidence left to proceed.

    “My suspicion is that there are holes in Canon Law that mean bishops who covered up did not fail Canon Law requirements, so they can’t be held “accountable” under Canon Law.”

    My suspicion is you have an axe to grind and almost zero knowledge to grind it with, e.g. “My suspicion”.

    “It is time for some real change in the Church – an accountability to the laity and some lay oversight.”

    In short, abuse is really not your issue.

    Your real issue is something along these lines:

    http://arcc-catholic-rights.net/index.php/constitution/a-proposed-constitution-for-the-catholic-church

    much like the Episcopal Church.

    It is not going to happen.

    And the reason it is not going to happen is this:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

    My advice to folks like yourself is to look around at

    https://www.episcopalchurch.org/

    https://www.elca.org/

    and a few others where you will find ordained women, a synod or convention with lay voting, abortion endorsements, same sex marriage, plus bells, smells, and vestments.

    Stop beating your head into a wall.

    It makes your head hurt and annoys the folks on the other side of the wall.

    You’ll be much happier.

  • As usual, “R.A. Bob” comes to the aid of the Church of Rome: “Look at how much our church as done to address the problem of clerical sex abuse, episcopal malfeasance, and papal indifference. Let’s focus on other institutions for a change.”

    It required a free press, the courts, and public pressure to open the “secret archives” to disclose the rank hypocrisy, etc. of the U.S. Catholic hierarchs’ hostile dealings with sex abuse victims and their advocates.

    The Church of Rome needs — even yet — to get its own house in order before pointing the finger of blame to other organizations. Let’s not deflect attention to take the heat off the church’s official leadership.

  • “If Canon Law is followed…there should be no problems…blah, blah, blah.”

    Canon Law: Of, by, and for the hierarchs.

    It was “followed”, just not in honest fashion.

  • “My suspicion is that there are holes in Canon Law that mean bishops who covered up did not fail Canon Law requirements, so they can’t be held ‘accountable’ under Canon Law.”

    BINGO!

    Per c.1344, “Even if the law uses preceptive words, the judge can, according to his own conscience and prudence:

    “1/ defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time if it is foreseen that greater evils will result from an offerly hasty punishment of the offender.” (“greater evils” = “scandal”)

    Per c.1352 §2, “The obligation to observe an undeclared latae sententiae penalty which is not notorious in the place where the offender is present, is suspended totally or partially whenever the offender cannot observe it without danger of grave scandal or infamy.” (a “free pass” to the offender, “notorious” or effectively not)

    Canon law allows judgment by the hierarch — and effectively its misuse by the pervert cleric — to prevent “scandal”.

  • Canon law is like all other law, despite the pretensions to somehow being above and better than other kinds of laws.

    It is only as good as the intentions with which it is created, the intentions with which it is followed, and the intentions with which it is administered, understood, and enforced. No law is capable of taking into account the complexities of human thought, human motivation, and human behavior, sociology, and psychology.

    And frankly, from the point of view of this atheist, two more things are at play: human prejudices and the willingness to be deceived— and by this, I mean the willingness of humans to be deceived because they really want something to be true, and they are willing to cede authority to anyone who claims he has it, despite the obvious.

  • Canon Law makes no pretensions “to somehow being above and better than other kinds of laws.”

    The difference between any Canon Law and other law is the subject of the laws.

    No law, no matter how well written, works if it is not obeyed.

    As to “…. the willingness of humans to be deceived because they really want something to be true ….”, the obvious example is your delusion that somehow Obergefell v. Hodges actually created a right out of thin air.

  • Well, I won’t go as far as capital punishment. I have pictured myself being entirely capable of beating the stuffing out of someone who sexually abuses a child. Maybe along the lines you mentioned, we should have public whipping posts, the way they do in Saudi Arabia.

    I haven’t heard much about child sexual abuse in Italy – perhaps the result of the reputation of Italian mama’s.

  • Read Joseph Jaglowicz response on this issue. Canon Law is muddled on this issue. And think about the fact that despite a recommendation from his child abuse committee advisors to set up a mechanism to hold bishops accountable, and his initial support for it, there is nothing. We need for the Pope to be clear and public on this. At this point, there appears to be no framework for holding bishops accountable for child sex abuse cover-up. It is at the whim of the pontiff. Admit it, Bob, there is a big, big hole in Canon Law and in the Catholic Church structure that has left and continues to leave bishops unaccountable. If that is not true, why did JPII and BXVI do absolutely nothing to hold bishops accountable and Francis do so little. He needs a new study commission to look at the injustice which is allowed to occur because of the inadequacies of Canon Law and Church structure – particularly where it addresses the accountability of bishops.

    I suggest you read some of what is coming out of various groups in Australia trying to get reform in the Church that is so badly needed. The Catholic Church there has suffered horribly. I think weekly Mass attendance is down to something like 12%. They will be holding a national Plenary Council in 2020, but it will not be useful if it is, again, mostly bishops, priests, those in religious orders, and a few “acceptable” Catholic lay people.

    I am not beating my head on a wall.

  • Thanks for that, Joseph. It is so clear that bishops have not been held accountable just about anywhere (until some recent actions by Pope Francis) that there can be do doubt there is a hole in Canon Law and Catholic Church structures. The sex abuse scandal has made that abundantly clear. Even BXVI, when he said the scandal in Ireland was the fault of the bishops, did nothing to hold them accountable for their failure.

    There are – what – 5000 bishops worldwide, all individually their own bosses with only some dicastery in Rome overseeing them along with one person – the Pope – who can really act to deal with them. Even the national or regional bishops conferences have no power to hold one another accountable. Total craziness. The Church needs some intermediate levels of management. They also need to have input oversight from lay people, men and especially women, on choosing who is bishop and then periodically evaluating a bishops performance.

  • “Read Joseph Jaglowicz response on this issue.”

    He is a former Catholic, full of misinformation, and his “response” isn’t.

    “Canon Law is muddled on this issue.”

    The only folks who think Canon Law is muddled on this issue are folks like Kieran Tapsell, who is making a living claiming Canon Law is muddled on this issue.

    “We need for the Pope to be clear and public on this.”

    I don’t know who the “we” is. I keep these reading these demands coming from people who have been giving the Church the one finger salute for four decades, don’t belong to a parish, don’t support the Church, go around attacking it and its teachings.

    The actual folks in the pews don’t seem to make those sorts of demands.

    “Admit it, Bob, there is a big, big hole in Canon Law and in the Catholic Church structure that has left and continues to leave bishops unaccountable.”

    If that was true you’d cite chapter and verse. You can’t.

    In his brief entrance here, Kieran Tapsell couldn’t.

    “He needs a new study commission ….”.

    Man, if there is anything the Spirit of Vatican II types love it’s a commission. There’s better way to gum things up and get nothing done then setting a commission of talking heads.

    As the run-up to Humanae Vitae demonstrated, commissions are a “heads I win, tail you lose” situation.

    “I suggest you read some of what is coming out of various groups in Australia trying to get reform in the Church that is so badly needed.”

    I have.

    The bulk of the demands are from anti-Catholics. Australia has a long history of anti-Catholicism and animus towards the Church, closely tied to its history of anti-Irish bigotry.

    The other demands are coming from their versions of Call To Action, people who have been giving the Church the one finger salute for four decades, don’t belong to a parish, don’t support the Church, go around attacking it and its teachings.

    “I am not beating my head on a wall.”

    You are, but apparently it’s thick enough you don’t notice it.

  • Joseph Jaglowicz is still a Catholic, just not “Roman”. As for the rest of “R.A. Bob’s” blather, it’s just…..blather.

  • I must help get “R.A. Bob” nominated for the honor of “Distinguished Keeper of the Papal Chamber Pot”, which consists of a Certificate of Authenticity printed on Vatican toilet paper and an attractive white porcelain piece with faux gold chain for wear around the neck. The porcelain piece, decorated with the papal insignia, is in the likeness of a chamber pot. Our blogger can wear it with pride (and I know he will).

  • Since ATF45 apparently forgets our last trip through this material and referenced again, so I have unblocked you for this purpose.

    “Per c.1344, “Even if the law uses preceptive words, the judge can, according to his own conscience and prudence:”

    “”1/ defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time if it is foreseen that greater evils will result from an offerly hasty punishment of the offender.” (“greater evils” = “scandal”)”

    “Per c.1352 §2, “The obligation to observe an undeclared latae sententiae penalty which is not notorious in the place where the offender is present, is suspended totally or partially whenever the offender cannot observe it without danger of grave scandal or infamy.” (a “free pass” to the offender, “notorious” or effectively not)”

    “Canon law allows judgment by the hierarch — and effectively its misuse by the pervert cleric — to prevent “scandal”.”

    Well, no. The Canons you cite out of context involve the application of penalties were there are options available. Canons 1344 to 1346 refer *solely* to discretionary penalties.

    A priest found culpable for abuse suffers a non-discretionary penalty of dismissal, so Canons 1344 to 46 are inapplicable entirely.

    Canon 1352 deals *solely* with latae sententiae penalties. A latae sententiae penalty is one that follows ipso facto or automatically, by force of the law itself, when a law is contravened. An example would be procuring or performing an abortion.

    The exception in §2 which you misinterpret to mean the judge can suspend a sentence against a “pervert cleric” actually deals with the offender her or himself under a latae sententiae penalty, stating that if the offender cannot observe it without the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name to her or himself (that is, everyone in town will know about it), he or she need not observe to that extent.

    This shows the benignity of the Church for her flock, not weasel words to the benefit of a someone who should be punished.

    I have my 1630 page “Code of Canon Law Annotated” in front of me with extensive notes on all these Canons by the best minds in Canon Law.

    You have …. a bad attitude and zero knowledge of Canon Law.

    ****

    http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/canon/c1311-1363.htm#par2773

    “TITLE V: THE APPLICATION OF PENALTIES

    Can. 1341 The Ordinary is to start a judicial or an administrative procedure for the imposition or the declaration of penalties only when he perceives that neither by fraternal correction or reproof, nor by any methods of pastoral care, can the scandal be sufficiently repaired, justice restored and the offender reformed.

    Can. 1342 ß1 Whenever there are just reasons against the use of a judicial procedure, a penalty can be imposed or declared by means of an extra‚judicial decree; in every case, penal remedies and penances may be applied by a decree.

    ß2 Perpetual penalties cannot be imposed or declared by means of a decree; nor can penalties which the law or precept establishing them forbids to be applied by decree.

    ß3 What the law or decree says of a judge in regard to the imposition or declaration of a penalty in a trial, is to be applied also to a Superior who imposes or declares a penalty by an extra‚judicial decree, unless it is otherwise clear, or unless there is question of provisions which concern only procedural matters.

    Can. 1343 If a law or precept gives the judge the power to apply or not to apply a penalty, the judge may also, according to his own conscience and prudence, modify the penalty or in its place impose a penance.

    Can. 1344 Even though the law may use obligatory words, the judge may, according to his own conscience and prudence:

    1ƒ defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time, if it is foreseen that greater evils may arise from a too hasty punishment of the offender;

    2ƒ abstain from imposing the penalty or substitute a milder penalty or a penance, if the offender has repented and repaired the scandal, or if the offender has been or foreseeably will be sufficiently punished by the civil authority;

    3ƒ may suspend the obligation of observing an expiatory penalty, if the person is a first‚offender after a hitherto blameless life, and there is no urgent need to repair scandal; this is, however, to be done in such a way that if the person again commits an offence within a time laid down by the judge, then that person must pay the penalty for both offences, unless in the meanwhile the time for prescription of a penal action in respect of the former offence has expired.

    Can. 1345 Whenever the offender had only an imperfect use of reason, or committed the offence out of fear or necessity or in the heat of passion or with a mind disturbed by drunkenness or a similar cause, the judge can refrain from inflicting any punishment if he considers that the person’s reform may be better accomplished in some other way.

    Can. 1346 Whenever the offender has committed a number of offences and the sum of penalties which should be imposed seems excessive, it is left to the prudent decision of the judge to moderate the penalties in an equitable fashion.

    Can. 1347 ß1 A censure cannot validly be imposed unless the offender has beforehand received at least one warning to purge the contempt, and has been allowed suitable time to do so.

    ß2 The offender is said to have purged the contempt if he or she has truly repented of the offence and has made, or at least seriously promised to make, reparation for the damage and scandal.

    Can. 1348 When the person has been found not guilty of an accusation, or where no penalty has been imposed, the Ordinary may provide for the person’s welfare or for the common good by opportune warnings or other solicitous means, and even, if the case calls for it, by the use of penal remedies.

    Can. 1349 If a penalty is indeterminate, and if the law does not provide otherwise, the judge is not to impose graver penalties, especially censures, unless the seriousness of the case really demands it. He may not impose penalties which are perpetual.

    Can. 1350 ß1 In imposing penalties on a cleric, except in the case of dismissal from the clerical state, care must always be taken that he does not lack what is necessary for his worthy support.

    ß2 If a person is truly in need because he has been dismissed from the clerical state, the Ordinary is to provide in the best way possible.

    Can. 1351 A penalty binds an offender everywhere, even when the one who established or imposed it has ceased from office, unless it is otherwise expressly provided.

    Can. 1352 ß1 If a penalty prohibits the reception of the sacraments or sacramentals, the prohibition is suspended for as long as the offender is in danger of death.

    ß2 The obligation of observing a latae sententiae penalty which has not been declared, and is not notorious in the place where the offender actually is, is suspended either in whole or in part to the extent that the offender cannot observe it without the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name.

    Can. 1352 An appeal or a recourse against judgments of a court or against decrees which impose or declare any penalty, has a suspensive effect. “

    ***

    I have some idea of how you and the Diocese of Louisville came to a parting of the ways. You ought to put it behind you and knock these silly potshots off instead of being a bitter old man.

    You’re back to blocked.

  • The best news..and there may be more to come out of this mess when it gets cleaned up..is that Francis’s progressive agenda is DOA.

  • I recall a VA lawyer telling me years ago that the meaning of a law often enough depends on whom one asks. If this observation applies to laws of the State, I dare say it also applies to laws of the Church. If civil lawyers can argue legal interpretation, so can canon lawyers. (On this latter point, I must note that you referenced CODE OF CANON LAW ANNOTATED, which is published in the USA by Midwest Theological Forum, a printing arm of Opus Dei. Another text, NEW COMMENTARY ON THE CODE OF CANON LAW, is published in the USA by Paulist Press on behalf of the Canon Law Society of America. A reviewer of your text at Amazon writes in relevant part, “It has been noted that typical American commentary on the code of canon law lacks the intent expressed by the Vatican as well as the normative application of the law. You can be sure that you won’t find the same rationalistic attitude here.”)

    You write, “Canons 1344 to 1346 refer *solely* to discretionary penalties. A priest found culpable for abuse suffers a non-discretionary penalty of dismissal, so Canons 1344 to 46 are inapplicable entirely.”

    Tell THAT to victims of clerical sexual abuse perpetrated at the hands of perverts who were not dismissed from the presbyterate by their “judges” at home and/or in Rome. According to Wikipedia, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by JPII in late January 1983, went into effect in late November of that year. As written, c. 1344.1, notwithstanding its applicability to “discretionary” penalties only, could easily enough be construed by a “judge”, i.e., a local hierarch, as giving him a basis to “defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time, if it is foreseen that greater evils may arise…” One of those “greater evils”, no doubt, would have been “scandalizing the faithful”. One cannot exclude rationalization in such situations. After all, the local hierarch is “the judge”.

    You write, “Canon 1352 deals *solely* with latae sententiae penalties. A latae sententiae penalty is one that follows ipso facto or automatically, by force of the law itself, when a law is contravened. An example would be procuring or performing an abortion.

    “The exception in §2 which you misinterpret to mean the judge can suspend a sentence against a “pervert cleric” actually deals with the offender her or himself under a latae sententiae penalty, stating that if the offender cannot observe it without the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name to her or himself (that is, everyone in town will know about it), he or she need not observe to that extent.”

    I wrote earlier, “Canon law allows judgment by the hierarch — and effectively its misuse by the pervert cleric — to prevent ‘scandal’.” Perhaps I should have included the word “respectively” in this comment to clarify my sentence. In any event, your reply reflects my understanding of c.1352.2. There is no “misinterpret[ation]” on my part. Since the pervert cleric applies this canon to himself (!!!), what cleric would not want to avoid “the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name”? He’d be a fool to turn himself in to the hierarch.

    As for my past relationship with the Louisville archdiocese, we did not have any “parting of the ways”. I left because of B16 — and B16 only. I was never on bad terms with my cathedral pastor, the archbishop, or anyone else associated with the archdiocese in any capacity.

    If you think I’m “a bitter old man”, get your vision checked. On the other hand, it is abundantly clear that you’re an apologist for the institutional church. So be it.

  • “I recall a VA lawyer telling me years ago that the meaning of a law often enough depends on whom one asks.”

    In this case the headings themselves and the context you took them out of made clear you were off base by miles. All you have to do is read the text.

    The only reason your original comments received any response was the result of my reading:

    “Read Joseph Jaglowicz response on this issue.”

    from ATF45. That was the tip-off that, once again, you were up to your usual spreading of misinformation to the detriment of the poorly informed.

    I have been reading your dreck for years on-line, the bitter rantings of a retired petty bureaucrat with zero bona-fides, and an anti-Catholic axe to grind. Since generally it is so obviously nonsensical I neither read nor respond.

    In fact, the only reason I read this is I know your approach well enough that I knew what I would find this morning.

    “Tell THAT to victims of clerical sexual abuse perpetrated at the hands of perverts who were not dismissed from the presbyterate by their ‘judges’ at home and/or in Rome.”

    Certainly when you find out you didn’t know what you were talking about, one approach is to change the topic.

    ANY cleric guilty of abuse who was not dismissed from the clerical state benefitted from episcopal law-breaking.

    “As written, c. 1344.1, notwithstanding its applicability to “discretionary” penalties only, could easily enough be construed by a “judge”, i.e., a local hierarch, as giving him a basis to ‘defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time, if it is foreseen that greater evils may arise…’”.

    Uh, in a word “no”. You are simply wrong.

    You picked this nonsense up from

    https://www.npr.org/2018/09/04/644667657/has-catholic-canon-law-aggravated-the-clergy-abuse-crisis

    or

    https://michaelbaumann.wordpress.com/tag/canon-1341/

    or one of the other nonsensical sources you and your dissident friends love to frequent.

    But in order to reach that erroneous conclusion, you literally have to remove the Canon from its context.

    Canon Law provides and has provided longer than any member of the clergy has been alive that a cleric of any rank found guilty of abuse be removed forthwith from the clerical state.

    Period. End. Finé.

    “In any event, your reply reflects my understanding of c.1352.2. There is no ‘misinterpret[ation]’ on my part. Since the pervert cleric applies this canon to himself (!!!), what cleric would not want to avoid “the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name”? He’d be a fool to turn himself in to the hierarch.”

    Anyone past the fourth grade who reads and writes English already knows that your quoted paragraph was written through your hat.

    You misused the text to suggest a bishop could use Canon 1352 to look the other way. Clearly the Canon in question cannot be used for that.

    “As for my past relationship with the Louisville archdiocese ….”.

    Uh, current non-relationship with the Louisville archdiocese. Yes, they tolerated your ranting for years.

    You are certainly within your rights to call yourself Catholic, Spot the Wonder Dog, or Pinky Lee.

    For those who may be confused by you, alwayspuzzled, et al I simply point out that what you’re putting forth is unrelated to the Catholic Church, the Catholic Faith, and the Catholic faithful – institutional or otherwise.

    In your case it is garden variety anti-Catholicism from a bitter man.

    And, your “facts” on Canon Law are an example of how GIGO works.

  • I tend to agree.

    The rise and fall of modernism in Catholicism 1940-2020 will probably precede the Catholic CounterReformation of 2020-? in history books two hundred years hence.

    Of course, there is a minority opinion:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/www-aggiornamento-net/the_failed_messiah/#comment-4083196809

    “…. I think a Church that abandons historical-critical method can’t survive the 21st century.”

    Of course the “historical-critical method” is the 19th century German nonsense that kicked the pins out from under liberal Protestantism.

  • “Read Joseph Jaglowicz response on this issue.”

    I have dissected Mr. Jaglowicz’ hilariously misguided inaccurate comments, and shown a couple of the poorly informed sources from which they may have come.

    Given the level of idiotic misinformed anti-Catholic drivel out on the Internet, you ought to touch base with reliable sources once in awhile to keep your equilibrium.

  • No, you haven’t “dissected” anything. You bring the same old lines taken from the same old places. You learn nothing. And you offer the same thing over and over which ignores the reality of what has happened to Catholicism and Catholic people world wide.

    Add it all up, Bob. All round the world the same thing, most Catholics disagreeing on contraceptives, civil gay marriage, larger roles for women and laity, a dysfunctional Church structure that has drifted away from relevancy to people of today. The cover-up of child sex abuse and its disclosure, the refusal of JPII to even look, the desperation of BXVI to blame anyone by not Canon Law or the Vatican. The same thing in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Ireland, England/Scotland, South America, Australia, many European countries, now India. The Church is not structured to handle this and it must end the clerical power culture and let in the voice of people who live a live other than as a priest or vowed religious. Those on the inside have lost touch with the reality of life lived outside the clerical world by men and women of faith. They never had a sense of the life of the female, but it is a real problem now that women have gained voice, authority, power, confidence – they haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with that except to ignore what it means to how they, too, can function effectively in the world.

  • “No, you haven’t ‘dissected’ anything.”

    Only if you can’t read English.

    I demonstrated that your friend Jacko had taken “the same old lines taken from the same old places”, none of which know Jack about Canon Law, and presented a completely fictitious version of Canon Law out of context.

    If you insist on jamming your fingers in your ears, not even bothering to read the Canons in question in context (I provided the url), “You learn nothing.”

    “All round the world the same thing, most Catholics disagreeing on contraceptives, civil gay marriage, larger roles for women and laity, a dysfunctional Church ….”

    Yes, thanks to you, Jacko, William D, the National (not)Catholic Reporter, et al.

    A half century of babble aimed at giving the Church and the Magisterium the one-finger salute.

    That party, oddly enough thanks to Pope Francis, is grinding to a halt.

    “The Church is not structured to handle this and it must end the clerical power culture and let in the voice of people who live a live other than as a priest or vowed religious.”

    I seem to have read this somewhere before:

    http://arcc-catholic-rights.net/

    https://www.dignityusa.org/

    https://www.womensordination.org/

    cta-usa.org/

    And do you know how much progress they’ve made in changing anything?

    Zero.

    And do you know why they’re fading away?

    https://www.ncronline.org/organization/association-rights-catholics-church

    Old age.

    “Those on the inside have lost touch with the reality of life lived outside the clerical world by men and women of faith.”

    While those on the outside, like the groups above, no longer have a voice in the Church.

    Why in the world would a bishop listen to a white-haired superannuated dissident who is not attending a parish, contributes nothing at all to his diocese or any parish, and goes around badmouthing Catholic teaching when he has 35 year-old physician with five children in Catholic schools who tithes and supports the Church?

    The future is not with the white-haired cranks or the feminists on the fringe.

  • The kind of study that you recommended has already been undertaken. See the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This Royal Commission in Australia examined a wide range of institutions, both religious and secular, and came up with a number of firm recommendations. Please follow this link: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

  • Thank you, Mglass, for bringing this up. I followed the Royal Commission off and on over the years it was investigating institutional child sex abuse and think it did an incredible job of educating the public as to what such sex abuse really is, who/where such abuse took place, the effect of such abuse on those abused, and the coverup everywhere. The problem is that most people in this country don’t know about it, so your mentioning it helps.

    It should be clear from all the investigations that institutions protect the institution, and not the individual. Most sad is that this includes religious institutions who most folks would expect to have a better behavior. They don’t. It tells us that we all need to recognize that oversight of institutions such as religious organizations, childrens/young adult clubs, sports clubs, public and private schools/universities. All of them need oversight of those outside the institution because those with power within the institution will protect themselves – and their power – before anything else.

    I would also like to say that Australia has some super investigative reporting, some excellent on-line news sources, and an active, intelligent Catholic base who are trying to make real changes that will make a difference. They have suffered under some bishops as bad as we have had here in their authoritarianism – but I see a light here and there in Australia, just as a see a few brighter bulbs now in the U.S. Unfortunately, here, our bishops are led by the old school types and they fight what Pope Francis is trying to do – to let the light inside and let Jesus outside the chalice where they hold Him hostage and have convinced the Catholic world only they can bring us into His presence.

  • “Canon Law provides and has provided longer than any member of the clergy has been alive that a cleric of any rank found guilty of abuse be removed forthwith from the clerical state. Period. End. Finé.”

    Don’t you wish.

    In its “Questions and Answers Regarding the Canonical Process for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons”, the USCCB states: “Catholic Church law provides a range of penalties for various crimes. For the sexual abuse of minors it provides for a just penalty that may include dismissal from the clerical state. In any event, according to the *Essential Norms*, in every case where a cleric admits to or is found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors he is permanently withdrawn from all public ministry. Nor may he present himself as a priest or deacon. Thus, even if a member of the clergy is not dismissed from the clerical state for having committed the crime of the sexual abuse of minors, his public ministry is still fully restricted in light of the gravity of the offense committed” (http://www.usccb.org/upload/FAQs-canonical-process-sexual-abuse.pdf).

    The above information is consistent with:

    + CDF, “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church and to the Ordinaries and Hierarchs, regarding the modifications introduced in the Normae de gravioribus delictis” dtd 21 May 2010 (article 6),

    + USCCB, “Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons” dtd May 5, 2006 (norm 8), and

    + 1983 Code of Canon Law, c.1395.2.

    You accused me of misinterpreting c. 1352.2, to wit: “The obligation to observe an undeclared latae sententiae penalty which is not notorious in the place where the offender is present, is suspended totally or partially whenever the offender cannot observe it without danger of grave scandal or infamy.” I wrote earlier, “Since the pervert cleric applies this canon to himself (!!!), what cleric would not want to avoid ‘the danger of grave scandal or loss of good name?’ He’d be a fool to turn himself in to the hierarch.” In spite of my correct interpretation, you stated that “[I] misinterpret[ed] to mean the judge can suspend a sentence against a ‘pervert cleric’…” I did not mention any judicial involvement by the bishop.

    You contended, “ANY cleric guilty of abuse who was not dismissed from the clerical state benefitted from episcopal law-breaking.” Wrong. You don’t make canon law, and your opinion in this instance is just that — an uninformed assertion. In other words, blather. Dismissal from the clerical state, according to c. 1395.2, is an option, perhaps the preferred outcome in most cases, all matters being equal. However, the bishop/judge, depending on circumstances, may impose other penalties as deemed appropriate.

    You refer to “the Catholic Faith”. There is no such thing as “the Catholic Faith”. The only “faith” is Christianity (cf. Ephesians 4:5-6). Catholicism is but but tradition, i.e., “handing down”, of the one and only Christian faith.

    You’ve accused me of being “a bitter man”. No, I’m not. On the other hand, your recent replies have clearly reflected the online behavior of “a bitter man”. It’s been said that one often incorrectly accuses others of what he cannot see in himself. You are that one.

    You accused me of having “zero knowledge of Canon Law.” I’ve never claimed to be a canon lawyer. On the other hand, if you are a canon lawyer or a cleric, God help the people who seek your advice on canonical matters. You certainly haven’t demonstrated competence on such matters in your blogging.

    Damn, I love winning cats eye marbles from you, “R.A. Bob”. I wanna’ win even more. You’re a wuss.

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