Sunday, September 12, 2010

Democratic Presidencies Bring More Income Growth than Republican

     Here is something to consider when  voting in November, especially if like SHE and I you are scraping for dollars.

Don't Ask Don't Tell Declared Unconstitutional, Maddow's Coverage

Belgian Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Admissions, and Disappearances

     The Roman Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Belgium is not slowing down.  Here are some quick updates of what happened this week.

    A Belgian commission looking into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy says it has received testimony from hundreds of victims.  The commission's chairman Peter Adriaenssens said 488 witnesses came forward, most of them after the April resignation of a bishop for sexual abuse set off a deep crisis within the Belgian church.  A report by the commission lists in great detail how victims say they were abused by clergy, and lists one witness as saying it started as young as two.
     A Belgian Catholic Church-backed commission Friday published a report revealing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy and church workers, and 13 suicides by abuse victims...It noted that one fact in particular showed "the extent of the negative effects: the high number of suicides," the report said.  The commission received 13 reports in which "the person concerned died by suicide and this in relation to sexual abuse by a cleric," it said, adding that another six victims said they had attempted suicide.
     The former head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church has admitted he made mistakes in dealing with a case of sexual abuse and should have demanded the resignation of the bishop involved.  In interviews published in newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and La Libre Belgique and the weekly magazine Knack on Wednesday, Cardinal Godfried Danneels described his failure to urge the bishop to go as his "most serious error of judgment."
     "Up until today I have the feeling that I had stepped into a trap. Call it naivete. You can make all sorts of assumptions about the intentions of Roger Vangheluwe. But the error of assessment was mine," Danneels said.
     The former Belgian bishop who resigned in April after admitting he sexually abused a nephew for years said Saturday he would go into hiding to assess his future, despite calls for him to leave the church immediately.  Roger Vangheluwe said in a statement he would immediately leave an abbey in his bishopry of Bruges, where he has been staying since his April 23 resignation. His bishopry has urged him to seek another place to live, and several victims of sexual abuse by clergy as well as a prominent senator have called on him to leave the church as an institution.  Vangheluwe gave no response to the calls for him to step out of priesthood, but said that "as of today, I will contemplate my life and future somewhere hidden, outside the bishopry of Bruges."

Catholic Father Alejandro Flores, Ordination Class of 2009, Gets Four to Fifteen for Sexual Assault of a Child

     Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.  Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."  Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.  (The Sydney Morning Herald, September 8, 2010)
     The rhetoric coming from bishops, cardinals, and the pope about how the Catholic Church has repented, reformed itself and is no longer ordaining pedophile priests, all the claims that priest-perpetrated sexual abuse was a problem for elder generations of priests and that newly ordained undergo improved psychological procedures to weed out abusers, and all the reassurances that the church knows best how to reform itself have once again been proven false.

     On Wednesday, Father Alejandro Flores, 37, priest in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, and a member of the ordination class of 2009, changed his previous plea of not-guilty to guilty.  His crime: sexually assaulting a boy  over the past five years, beginning when the boy was eight years old.  He also hit on the boy's older brother.  Which means, Flores was sexually assaulting his prepubescent child-victim, while Flores was in seminary and going through the church's rigorous "formation" that is supposed to weed out abusive candidates.

     Here's the kicker.  Five years ago, then-seminarian Flores was spotted engaging in what is known as grooming behavior by the the diocese's vocations director.  Twice, the diocese delayed Flores ordination, but in the end, he was ordained anyway.

     The Chicago Tribune reports (My comments are interspersed):
     Flores, 37, a native of Bolivia, started abusing the boy over a five-year period in 2005 after befriending members of his family, who were parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church in West Chicago. Flores was posted there as a seminarian and deacon while working toward ordination.  Assistant State's Attorney Deb Bree said Flores' crimes took place during the time church officials were deciding whether to elevate him to the priesthood.
     During an internship, Flores told his supervisor that as a child he had been the victim of sexual abuse at a Bolivian orphanage. That supervisor, the Rev. Burke Masters, vocational director for the Joliet Diocese, saw Flores alone in a car with the victim in 2005 and told him it was not appropriate to be alone with young boys, according to authorities.
      But he wasn't sent for counseling to deal with his inappropriate boundaries with children.  He was told it was "not appropriate."  Nor was he wasn't sent to counseling to better understand the dynamics of having been sexually abused as a child.  The counseling came when:
     Diocesan officials also later learned that Flores had viewed male pornography on a church-owned computer. The revelation again pushed back his ordination, Bree said, as Flores was sent for counseling.
     Doug Delany, a Joliet Diocese spokesman, said that with hindsight, Flores would not have been ordained. But he said the delays were part of what he called "extraordinary caution" exercised by Bishop J. Peter Sartain before deciding to elevate Flores.  "We were told he was ready for the priesthood," Delany said.
     Here again, the church passes the blame onto those who "told" the diocese that Flores was ready for the priesthood.  Still, it was Bishop Sartain who laid his hand on Flores at the ordination ceremony.
     Flores told the bishop that he had viewed pornography only once, Delany said. 
     That was probably the only time he masturbated, as well.
     And Flores' sexual abuse as a child did not necessarily indicate that he was a pedophile, the spokesman said.  Meanwhile, Flores maintained a relationship with the victim, now 13, and his older brother, now 18.
     Thankfully, someone other than the diocese's vocational director saw Flores alone in a car with a boy:
     Flores was ordained in June 2009 and remained at Holy Family, but his actions were drawing the attention of a man dating the victim's mother. The boyfriend said he saw Flores and the boy "in a suspicious position" in Flores' parked car, and in November the boyfriend found the boy and Flores in the bedroom of the boy's St. Charles home, Bree said.  In January, the victim's mother alerted Joliet Diocese officials to her suspicions.
     Once again, this story shows how the Catholic church is incapable of dealing with issues of sexual abuse.  Flores should have been investigated after being caught (by his superior) alone in a car with a possible victim.  But the church failed the victim and favored the seminarian.

     After the boy's mother came forward this January, the church did the right thing in handing Flores over the law, but that was after five years of abuse, during which time Flores was supposedly undergoing the best pyscho-spiritual counseling and formation that the church has to offer.

     Pope Ben, what good is your church's repentance, when the structures in place have consistently proven inefficient in preventing sexual abuse?

                   The Newly Ordained Priest                                       The Newly Convicted Pedophile