Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cardinal Who Raped Boys Had an Apparition of the Virgin Mary

     Guess who the Virgin Mary appeared to in rural eastern Austria?  Serial pedophile Hans Hermann Cardinal Groër.

     The future Cardinal Groër, a Benedictine monk who organized high-profile monthly pilgrimages to a shrine in rural eastern Austria where he said he once had an apparition of the Virgin Mary, was a surprise choice when he was named archbishop on July 15, 1986, priests and senior church officials say.
     The question is, not whether Groër's apparitions were valid, but whether they brought him closer to his god, and how many boys he raped during the many pilgrimages he lead to the place of his virgin's appearing. 

     Karin Bennhold of The New York Times published the results of an investigation into the handling of serial pedophile Cardinal Groër, which exposes how inept then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now-Pope Ben) and Pope John Paul II were in vetting Groër, a rumored pedophile at the time of his assent to archbishop, how they didn't punish him until there was widespread public outcry, how a good priest resigned in protest of the Vatican's inaction, and how even after Ratzinger finally removed Groër from ministry, the pedophile never stood trial in the church or state courts.

     Here are a few snipets from the article, (which can be found in its entirety by clicking here): 

Pope Benedict/Ratzinger paved the way for Groër's ascent.
(Note: the subheadings are my addition)
     The favorite on the final short list was a conservative clergyman, the Rev. Kurt Krenn, who had close ties to some of John Paul’s closest confidants, two senior officials with knowledge of the process said. “The energetic protest of Cardinal Ratzinger was decisive in removing Kurt Krenn from the list,” said one of the officials, who worked at the Vienna Archdiocese at the time and who declined to be identified because the procedure is confidential. Benedict, known for his rigorous theology, objected that his Austrian colleague, Father Krenn, did not have a Ph.D. in theology, but rather in philosophy, say officials and priests in Vienna who knew both men.
Pope Benedict/Ratzinger failed to properly vet Groër.
     In the words of Cardinal Schönborn, who first met Cardinal Ratzinger in 1972 when he was the future pope’s student and has been close to him ever since, Benedict “was the second most important man in the Vatican and had without doubt the ear of the pope.”
     But blocking Bishop Krenn does not appear to have been accompanied by a thorough vetting of Cardinal Groër, who was already under suspicion within his own abbey of sexually abusing minors and young men.
     The Rev. Udo Fischer, a priest who attended the Hollabrunn boys’ seminary in eastern Austria in the 1960s and early 1970s, where Cardinal Groër had lived and taught for decades, said that in 1985 he personally warned the abbot of their local Benedictine monastery about Cardinal Groër’s inappropriate behavior with boys, whom he often referred to as “little angels.”
     Father Fischer told Abbot Clemens Lashofer of Göttweig Abbey that he himself had been molested by Cardinal Groër when they worked together on a youth movement devoted to the Virgin Mary in the early 1970s, and that he had observed him acting inappropriately with others who were not willing to come forward.
     When Father Fischer learned about Cardinal Groër’s appointment as archbishop, he said he sent an angry telegram to Abbot Lashofer and asked why he had not spoken up. The abbot, who was head of Austria’s Benedictine order at the time, claimed he had never been questioned by the Vatican’s representative, the nuncio. “If they really did not ask him, they did not want to know,” Father Fischer said.
It was a "known secret" that Groër abused.
     Members of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, whose ranks included Cardinal Ratzinger at the time, tend to review detailed files about the candidates before deciding which ones to recommend to the pope. “It is a very complicated procedure,” said Lorenz Wolf, judicial vicar of the archdiocese in Munich. “It is very improbable that someone could hide something.”
     The rumors surrounding Cardinal Groër’s transgressions went beyond the circle of those who suffered at his hands. Josef Votzi, the journalist who broke the scandal in 1995 in the magazine Profil, is another Hollabrunn alumnus and said that even among staff members of the Vienna Archdiocese he interviewed when Father Groër was named archbishop, his history was “an open secret.”
Pope Benedict/Ratzinger's actions at the time are inexplicable to those who knew him. 
     Cardinal Schönborn said he could not explain why Cardinal Ratzinger had so much influence with the pope on other matters, but lacked the clout to have Cardinal Groër investigated for abuse. “I am not responsible to explain everything,” he said. “I just know that that is how it was.”
     Nor did Benedict’s subsequent communications on the matter shed much light on the scandal. In letters he sent to Austrian clergy members after the scandal, he made no mention of the former archbishop’s transgressions, instead warning bishops against ceding ground on the reformist proposals of the Catholic grass-roots movements that had sprung up.
Groër was only removed after widespread public outcry.
     In 1996, Cardinal Groër was named head of a priory in Germany then overseen by Göttweig Abbey and still appeared at official church functions. This sparked a vocal rebellion in Göttweig in late 1997, among some of his former students and victims, who called for his resignation.
     Faced with such upheaval, church officials removed Cardinal Groër from the priory and sent him back in January to the convent where he had lived after he was forced out in 1995. Shortly afterward, John Paul II approved a Vatican investigation.
The results of the Groër investigation were kept secret; no trial or public rebuke.
     But no result of the investigation was ever made public, and Cardinal Groër never faced a church court or even a public rebuke from Rome, let alone a secular trial.
A good priest left in protest of these lackadaisical actions and was quickly dismissed.

     Many in the Austrian clergy criticized what they saw as an attempt by Rome to protect a cardinal while ignoring victims demanding justice. Prior Gottfried Schätz, the No. 2 at Göttweig Abbey who had helped lead the outcry against Cardinal Groër, left in September 1998 and requested removal from the priesthood, which he was granted unusually quickly, within a year, Father Fischer said.
     Father Schermann said, “They did as much as they had at each point in time given the public outcry, and no more.”
     Will the Vatican continue to use deceased and soon-to-be-Saint John Paul II as a scapegoat for Pope Benedict/Ratzinger's participation and culpability in the Groër pedophilia debacle?  My prediction is that they will paint John Paul II as the true mastermind behind the Vatican's systematic cover-up, only to canonize him a saint a few years down the road.

It's time for some serious flushing in the Vatican.

Pope on a Rope: Catholic Sexual Abuse and Statute of Limitations

     Pope Benedict is a cleric on a wire, tightrope walking his way over a seemingly bottomless chasm of priest-perpetrated sexual abuse allegations and cover up by Catholic clerics in power. 

     It seems that daily news reports are tying both Pope Ben and deceased, soon-to-be-Saint John Paul II to more cases of the mishandling and enabling of perpetrators of child rape and sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. 

     The tightrope is swaying and fraying.  Is it only a matter of time before Pope Ben falls into the chasm?  Is there any sacred soap that can gracefully wash away the stain of scandal?

     Yesterday, The New York Times published an Op-ed by Lawrence Lessig, law professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard.  In the piece, Lessig calls the church and Pope Benedict on their empty pledges to do all they can "to investigate abuse accusations and find ways to safeguard children in the future," while they continue to lobby against laws that will loosen the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to seek justice against their perpetrators. 

     We've seen this blatant and financially motivated hypocrisy in Connecticut and Florida over the past few weeks.  Lessig discusses how the bishops of New Jersey and New York have been and are continuing to lobby against victims' legal rights.

     Lessig states:
     If the New York Catholic Conference stops this reform, it will achieve three things. First, it will protect its own wealth. Second, it will assure that potentially thousands of victims who have been abused by priests will have no opportunity for compensation. And third, it will help preserve a system of irresponsibility that makes it too easy to ignore child sexual abuse, because the costs of ignoring it are lower in New York than in most other states.

     If Pope Benedict and the church want redemption for the crimes of Catholic priests, there must continue to be confessions of those past sins. But just as important, the church must look at what it is doing today and end its campaign to block the weak and the vulnerable from receiving help to deal with the consequences of criminal sexual abuse.
Image Credits:
Pope on a Rope, Cheaper than Therapy
Pope on a Rope Medallians, Mahalo Answers
Pope on a Rope in a Box, Verbal Viagra
Pope on a Tightrope, Photobuck Mariter7

California's 1950 Cure-the-Gay Mandate Repealed

     There was a small victory against the Gospel According to Hate in the California assembly yesterday.  Yey!

     On Top Magazine reports:

     On Monday, the California Assembly approved a bill that repeals a decades-old gay “cure” mandate from state code with a unanimous 62-0 vote.
     The law instructed the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the “causes and cures of homosexuality.”
     The law was placed on the books in 1950. It classifies gay men and lesbians as sexual deviants and possible child molesters.
     “It's discriminatory, it's insulting and it has got to go,” Lowenthal said. “Sixty years is more than long enough.”
     The ex-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a group that claims sexual orientation can be altered, objected to repeal of the law.  Jeralee Smith, education director of PFOX California, called the repeal effort “offensive” in an interview with the Associated Press.
     CBS5 reports:
     [The bill's] author, Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach, originally proposed an outright repeal, but some lawmakers wanted to retain language that encouraged research into the causes of sex crimes against children. "The result will be the law as it should have been written 60 years ago, but now we're setting it right," Lowenthal said.
Thank you Assemblywoman Lowenthal for your support of LGBT civil rights.

Constance McMillen's Graduation to be Picketed by Westboro Baptist Church

     Constance McMillen, who was discriminated against for wanting to bring her girlfriend to prom, is getting an unexpected graduation present.  The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, has announced that they will picket McMillen's May 22nd graduation and browbeat the parents and students of Constance's Mississippi community (Fulton) with their Gospel According to Hate, which is "explained" at http://www.godhatesfags.com/.
     If you're not familiar with Westboro, this is the Fred Phelps, family-run church that pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers, who die in combat, in order to protest the supposedly gay-loving values of our nation.  Yeah, I know you're thinking, "But the military...Don't Ask, Don't Tell...technically there are no homosexuals in the military...and when knowledge of one arises, he/she is dismissed...why would they protest the funerals of dead soldiers?"  

     Don't expect logic here.  The only logic for them is to hate anyone and everyone who is different from their myopic experience of the universe that is their family-church.

     “WBC will picket the graduation of Itawamba Agricultural High School to remind the parents, teachers and students of this nation that God said 'Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind, it is abomination,'” the church said in announcing the protest.
     “This generation has been raised to believe that they can live for the devil and still go to heaven, that God has no standards and the biggest lie of all – that God loves everyone.”
     “The parents of Fulton, MS feign outrage that a filthy dyke wants to parade her 'girlfriend' around at their night of fornication called a prom,” the church added. “They had a duty to teach their children what the Lord requires of them. They shirked this duty.”
     The Topeka, Kansas-based church, which is made up mostly of family members, came to national attention when they started picketing the funeral processions of soldiers killed during the war in Iraq. Fred Phelps, who helms the church, believes dead soldiers returning from Iraq are God's punishment for American support of gay men and lesbians.  Members of the church believe it is sinful not to speak out against being gay.
     “But it's not you [gay men and lesbians] and your filth that is causing God's condign wrath to pour out unmixed and unmitigated on this rebellious nation,” Margie Phelps told On Top Magazine in 2008. “It's all of the pride and sin of doomed America; it's all the fag enablers, without which you would be back in the closet with your mouth shut, where you belong.”
     This is the face of the Gospel According to Hate.

Here's an interview of Constance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Image from The Advocate