Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roman Catholic church institutionally cover up sexual abuse cases

The Murphy Report (by the Commission of Investigation into the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations and suspicions of child abuse against clerics of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin) released in 2009 reveals that, "The Dublin Archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets."

CNN highlighted the part of the report that the report has "no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up" from January 1975 to May 2004."

Pope Benedict XVI's was reported feeling very unhappy over the report. But who would be otherwise? That is obviously the politically right way to respond, attempting to salvage as much as he can for his institution.

The Roman Catholic church in Ireland already being shown that they have been institutionally covering up these cases. If that can happen in Ireland in our current times, then it is less impossible that the Roman Catholic church all around the world share the same tendency to cover up their crimes or immorality institutionally.

It has been chronicled by Jamie Doward at in 2005 that the current pope, Ratzinger, was involved in covering up these cases when he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When the case against the notorious Marcial Maciel was reported to him, he consistently ignored the report from mid 1990s to 2002. In May 2001, Ratzinger sent letters to bishops to, "urged them to investigate such allegations 'in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication'."

At one occassion, Ratzinger said, "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the Pope as Marcial Maciel." That means, to Ratzinger, as long as you are close to the pope, you are immune from investigation.

It also has been revealed that the Roman Catholic church in Ireland had two teenage boys to sign oaths of silence in the 1975 to forbid them from talking about their abuse cases. The cardinal who was present at those meetings admitted the existence of such incidents.

The churches around the world have to be investigated, starting with the Roman Catholic churches since it has been made known of their systematic cover-ups. Who know how far does this sort of institutionalized evil is prevalent among the global Catholics. All victims of sexual abuses be it by Roman Catholic priest, cardinals, bishops, Jesuits, or any office holders across their various orders must come out to testify. The same goes to the Protestant churches too. All cases in the Christian communities must be reported. Since I'm from Malaysia, I wish the same investigation to carry out in my country. Who knows what we might discover in our own local churches.

In fact, the Catholics in Malaysia should initiate this. They should purge their own church. The same goes to non-Catholic churches too.


reasonable said...

When I wrote my previous comment on this I did not realise that there is this post. Great. As I mentioned previously, we should look at not only the number of such cases, but also the number of failed attempts where an Institutional Church tried to cover up such child sexual abuses, such as by gagging the victims with cash or various other means.

(we do not know the number of successful attempts, we base on the failed attempts to estimate the level of effort an Institutional Church put in to hide information on such cases)

The Catholic Guy said...

The evil institution that you refer too also gave birth to many modern marverls that you currently enjoy and sometimes...take for granted. You forget who compiled the bible, the book that you are referring to, universities, schools and hospitals were set up by this evil institution you refer to. You ought to know this as I'm sure they teach you these things in your seminary school right?

You're just being biased and just shinning the spotlight on one particular issue. I'm not even gonna get into how many other countless Protestant ministers have been involved in any scandalous activities...

Sze Zeng said...

Hi reasonable,

Yes, you have a point there.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Catholic Guy,

Thank you for the comments.

First, it needs one to commit gross anachronism to say what you said, that the bible is compiled by the Roman Catholic church, universities, schools, and hospitals are set up by Roman Catholic church. My college doesn't teach anachronism. Do you mean that your church or the Vatican does?

Second, the church is not above justice and its judgment. You imply that because the Roman Catholic church has done so much to the society, therefore whenever they are caught up with crime, the society has to close one eye and allow injustice to go under noticed and un-pursued. That is like saying if a father is caught raping his own daughter whom he has dedicatedly raised up, he should not be pursued for his crime due to the daughter's indebtedness to him. I just can't follow such ridiculous reasoning of yours.

Everyone is biased if you still have not realize. I am calling attention not only to Catholics but to non-Catholics as well, which is very very clearly stated in the post. Perhaps you have missed it, or perhaps your sight has been too blinded by your own bias.

reasonable said...

In case some readers missed the two very DIFFERENT crimes involved, let me list it out separately:

1. sexual abuse itself

2. EFFORTS TO COVER UP the crime

After committing a crime, the right thing to do is to CONFESS and REPENT. God forgives the truly repentant.

But God does not forgive if one tries to cover up the crime/sin, try to gag the victims and preventing them from getting due justice, or try to showcase good deeds to mitigate against the current crime.

Look at the principle underlying the scriptural text here:

[According to the book of Ezekiel, God said these] "The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression; a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin...When I said to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, NONE OF HIS [PAST] RIGHTEOUS DEEDS WILL BE REMEMBERED; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die." (look at Eze 33.13)

Nevertheless, if the criminal would confess and truly repent, God will forgive:

"When I [the god YHWH] say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and he turns from his sin and practices JUSTICE and righteousness, if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the laws which ensure life without committing iniquity, he will surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced JUSTICE and righteousness; he will surely live......'As I live,' declares YHWH, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. TURN BACK, TURN BACK from your evil ways!" (read thru Eze 33)

True repentance includes accepting the process of justice.

Any attempt to cover up the crime is a great sin. Attempt to cover up the crime is a sign of lack of true repentance.

The correct approach is to confess, repent and accept the consequences of justice (instead of trying to avoid facing the consequences of justice).

And to have a sincere attitude of merely hoping and begging for mercy and grace. Leave it to others whether or not to decide whether to respond with mercy and grace.

The criminal should not come with an arrogant attitude of EXPECTATION, EXPECTING others (others refer anyone such as members of the public, any blogger, the victims and their families, God, etc) to react with mercy and grace.


To EXPECT mercy and grace is a sign of lack of true/sincere repentance.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi The Catholic Guy,

I think reasonable is conveying his message to you.

clement said...

Sze Heng and Reasonable,

Do I detect the usual anti-Catholic protestant fling again? (Protestants just like to dredge Catholics through the streets, don't they?)

Reasonable (Post #1),

(1) Please, define what the "institutional Church" is.

Sze Heng (Post #2),

(1) It is not anachronism; it is history. The Catholic Church is the first Church to exist, long before any of your protestant Bible Colleges came into existence. And yes, several universities, schools and hospitals were set up by monasteries in Europe; the most prestigious schools in Europe were in fact monastic schools. (Some still retain their status today.)

Aside from that, this article seems particularly vindictive, almost as if you have some kind of grudge against the Vatican.

Reasonable (#2),

This charge of "gagging" is an instance of taking situations out of context. The Church is a religious organization - I hesitate at the word "Institution" - it is not designed to take care of criminal issues.

A sex abuse case is however a very delicate matter, because the last thing any sex-abuse victim wants to do is to re-live the trauma, and the bishop and innocent priests - out of goodwill not malicious "institutional intent" - do not want to force public revelation, which will make the poor victim even more embarrassed.

So the Church handles these matters by doing what it can, perhaps not the best methods, but what it has the jurisdiction to do.

There is no "gagging" or "cover-up"; that is as usual media hype. And well, one of the European Media's favourite victims (from the Enlightenment up till today) has been the Catholic Church.

Incidentally, have any idea what the period that the Murphy Report covers is? (The period that that Report is studying, not the period in which the study was carried out.)

The Catholic Guy,

insofar as the info in your posts as accurate, you are nonetheless being a little too emotive.

clement said...

Honestly Sze Heng,

Is your intention to have a witch-hunt carried out at Catholic Churches?

In case you were wondering, the German police also discovered a long string of abuses at Lutheran churches recently; so why don't you clear up your own backyard first, Protestant?

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

Thank you for your comment.

I'm "Sze Zeng", not "Sze Heng" :)

No, you did not detect the usual anti-Catholic fling because neither reasonable and myself are anti-Catholic. We are anti-paedophile and ANY institution that cover up such crimes institutionally.

To equate current Roman Catholic church as the church in the first five centuries is like saying current Singapore is the same Singapore in Raffles' time. To say that there were schools set up during Raffles' time is not the same in saying that current new public schools or SMU are set up by Raffles or Raffles gave us these schools.

In the first five centuries, there were many churches stretching from Rome to Asia Minor to Palestine to Egypt. These locally situated churches were all known by their location, for eg. church of Antioch, church of Alexandria. There was no centralize administration role played by Rome. The centrality of the Roman church only comes into prominence after Constatine's conversion, riding on the tide of Constantin'e political ambition. We see that such prominence was under threat when attention was shifted to Constantinople, especially so during the Council of Chalcedon and the reign of Justinian and his wife Theodora where their administration was located in Constantinople. By 520, Constantinople's bishop was known as "ecumenical patriach" which suggested that he was the head of all the churches in the world.

Just to point out that I'm not carrying out with-hunt among Catholics is what I have written, "In fact, the Catholics in Malaysia should initiate this. They should purge their own church. The same goes to non-Catholic churches too."

So to me, all churches Roman Catholic or otherwise should purge their own institutions.

Rahula said...


May I give my observation?

If these so-called "sexual abuse" (eg. paedophilia etc) were willingly permitted by the victims (for a reward or favour), would it still be considered a crime?

I made these observation from my workplace. Some people have allowed and willingly (some even seek it) their superiors to made sexual advances on them, whether its out of fear, favour, reward or genuine affection, I woudn't know. However, at times, when things go wrong, they would make a "sexual harrasmet,etc" accusation against their so-called "prepetrators"?

Best wishes,

clement said...

Joshua (can I call you that? It is easier),

(1) Again, whether the Church, as an Institution, covered it up, depends on what you think an "institution" is, whether you subscribe the formal definition or the sociological definition.

(2) Well, RI was set up by Raffles in 1823 and exists today. Based on your understanding of "similar" and "different", it appears that one of the 1823 RI and the 2010 RI is necessarily "Un-Rafflesian". As a Rafflesian, I wonder exactly what you would think is Un-Rafflesian about either RI. To me, both are equally RI because both possess the Rafflesian Ethos. (Whether Rafflesians actually follow the Ethos, is another matter.)

Similarly, The Roman Catholic Church is the Church of the first five centuries because it preserves the same Ethos in its teaching, even if its administrative competencies need improvement. (The behaviour of individual priests and Popes and bishops is another matter.)

By the way, as a Theology student, you should be familiar with Cor 3. The message of that chapter is that all the various churches are part of one Church, and that is how we talk of the Church in the first five centuries. If I could quote Cor 3:4:

"For when one says, 'I belong to Paul', and another, 'I belong to Apollos', are you not merely human?"

and amend it slightly,

"For when Sze Zeng says, 'they belonged to Antioch', and 'they belonged to Alexandria', is he not merely reducing Christianity to be purely human?"

That is the sense in which I used "(Roman) Catholic Church". Incidentally, the book of doctrine is called "the Catechism of the Catholic Church", as opposed to "the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church". The "Roman" is pretty much incidental.

Similarly, The Pope and the patriarch of Constantinople are "heads" in the same way that Saint Paul wanted fathers to be heads of their families, not as emperors but as figureheads, although as active figureheads, not passive ones.

That is what makes your classic Protestant caricature of the Church/Rome/Vatican so inaccurate. You are right to say that there was no centralized administration in the Church in the first five centuries, but you are wrong to say that there was any centralized administration in the Church after the first five centuries.

In fact, the Church set up the Inquisition in the Middle Ages because of this lack of centralized administration. The Inquisition was set up in response to a large massacre that occurred in France which caused great distress to the Pope at that time, as the violence and bloodshed of the Crusades distressed his later successors.

However, even the Inquisition tribunals were decentralized with respect to Rome. France, Spain, Germany and Rome and the Italian States each carried out their own Inquisitions, with no central administrative direction.

(3) As I have explained above, you are committing a Fallacy of Composition and Fallacy of Division error when you assert that the church in Malaysia should purge itself because the church in Ireland should purge itself.

The Dioceses of Penang and Johor are independent of the Dioceses in Ireland, and even their Archdiocese in Singapore.

Although you misunderstanding of how the Catholic Church functions is a common Protestant misunderstanding, it is a misunderstanding nonetheless. And not only that; it appears to imply a misunderstanding of Scripture as well.

clement said...

"church of Rome" is a very ambiguous term, and one that seems to make for confusion.

In Catholic understanding, "church of Rome" refers to the bishopric of Rome, which has a special representational significance for the Church, partially for historical reasons, but also in the general theological and doctrinal sense. Bishops represent Christ by representing the Pope, and priests represent Christ by representing their Bishops.

This is Papal primacy as taught by the Catholic Church, as opposed to the papal supremacy explanation that Protestants like to give.

If you want to talk more to me about papal issues, give me an email, or make yourself available on gmail anytime. You got my email.

clement said...


very good point.

reasonable said...

Hi Rahula,

I know u have left me an email address. I am busy but will contact u thru your email within these few weeks.

You asked: "If these so-called "sexual abuse" (eg. paedophilia etc) were willingly permitted by the victims (for a reward or favour), would it still be considered a crime?"

If a minor (i.e. legally under-age person) gives the consent to an adult for sex (whether or not they get any reward), it is still a crime for the adult to engage in sex with the minor. As lawyers would tell u, the adult is still a criminal.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

Feel free to call me Joshua. The reason I get this name due to others' convenient.

1) Institution in both senses.

2) I'm not familiar with RI's history hence might not be giving an appropriate response. But to equate current Roman Catholic church with the early church in its institutional authority, orientation, etc is anachronistic.

That depends what are included in the "ethos". For those like Hans Kung, who has a different set of ethos from Ratzinger, thinks that non-Roman Catholic church as also a church.

3) Yes, I'm familiar with those passages you quoted. Now have you ever wonder why did Paul need to wrote those? Why did he need to tell the Corinthians churches that various churches are part of one church? The reason was because there are segments in the church does not recognize the other segment as church, and some recognize the other as sub-church. To parallel current day, the Roman Catholic church does not recognize say a Methodist church as a church. To the Vatican, Methodist church is a sub-church. So your quotations of those passages are well suited for the Vatican too.

The relation between the pope and the patriach was not as innocent as you thought. The political ambition of both sides are seen after the post-council argument over canon 28 of the council. Since then there was already a tension between Rome and Constantinople. And such tension bubbled into the great schism in 1054 when both sides excommunicated each other. It was not until Vatican II they reconciled.

Do spare all the name-calling like 'anti-Catholic' etc because none of these help in the conversation. Add to that, you are not responding to my point at all. You wrote, "You are right to say that there was no centralized administration in the Church in the first five centuries, but you are wrong to say that there was any centralized administration in the Church after the first five centuries."

Let me paste what I wrote to your, "There was no centralize administration role played by Rome. The centrality of the Roman church only comes into prominence after Constatine's conversion, riding on the tide of Constantin'e political ambition.

You falsely and uncharacteristically accused me for saying (a) there was no centralized administration of the church in the first five centuries, and (b) there was any centralized administration in the Church after the first five centuries. And then you charged me for positing a classical protestant caricature of catholic which is inaccurate.

I didn't say any of those in the first place. You dont have to put words into my mouth in order for you to identify me as giving an inaccurate classical caricature.

3) I am not saying that Malaysia churches should purge itself because Ireland churches should purge itself. I was saying that since only now we know there is a lot of such cases in Ireland after victims are encouraged and authorized legally to step up to testify, therefore Malaysia churches should also encourage and authorized legally victims to step up to testify, if any.

In other words, I was not saying that Malaysian churches should follow Ireland churches; I was saying that since there is such problem in other churches due to previous negligence, we now need to avoid rid of such negligence to prevent the problem.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

Pls ignore the pagination (3) in my response to your quotation of scripture. Typo.

Rahula said...

Hi Reasonable,

Thank you. It was a general observation.

Your point is noted. I am aware of that. Here, if a 19 year old boy had a sexual affair with a 15 year old girl, it is legally considered rape.
How about Singapore?

My observation is better applied to adults.

Best wishes,

clement said...


yes, it is the same in Singapore. Although I think there was recently a move to amend that law.


(1) That makes a discussion problematic, and susceptible to the fallacy of Equivocation, unless you make clear which sense you are using the word/concept each time you use it.

(2) What do you mean by "orientation"? This is not another one of those "the early Church was pro-gay" arguments, is it?

(3) I somewhat strongly suspect that Kung will disagree with you on this point.

(4) "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" is applied even in the case of heresies. Methodism is not considered a "sub-Church" because it has "sub-people", but because it contains certain "sub-doctrines". The doctrines are what come under question, not the people. Of course, the attitudes of people in the past who peddle incorrect doctrines wilfully also come into question, for good or for ill.

In fact, history shows the exact opposite picture of what you described. The Reformers' and their supporters' favourite past-time in the early period of the Reformation was to portray the Catholic CHurch as a "sub-church" and the Pope as a "sub-priest", which essentially isn't much different from what your post implies. (In logic, this is called "implicature".) If you are familiar with the history of the Reformation, you should be familiar with the grotesque portrayals of the Pope as various forms of demons.

And in the current day, Ratzinger and the Vatican which he manages strongly supports the Ecumenical Movement, which is the Catholic Church reaching out to heal all wounds. But, there are Evangelicals like Jack Chick who do not want to see that happen. So well ... you claim that teh Catholic Church considers other churches "sub-Churches"? I say that is the pot calling the kettle black.


clement said...

Joshua (con-d),

(5) Your take on history is too simplistic.

In the first place, the theological dispute that "caused" the schism was not present in any canon; there was not even any canon law then. The theological dispute was over Rome's insertion of the word "filioque" ("and the son") into the Nicene Creed. Constantinople thought that it suggested polytheism; Rome thought that it was a textual clarification.

However, there was no serious disagreement, and Rome and Constantinople were actually almost fully reconciled. And they would have been if not for the Byzantines.

The Pope then was as vociferous a critic of the Byzantine court as the Pope now is of our modern governments. And the Byzantine Emperor did not like this one bit. He showed his displeasure by recognizing a priest called Photius as the Archbishop of Constantinople.

Photius was one of those Eastern Church members who was trying to make a big deal of the filioque clause. Nobody in the Western Church and very few of his fellow priests in the Eastern Church supported him; even his Bishop did not support him. So naturally both Rome and Constantinople opposed his office.

In response, the Byzantines chalked up an immense propaganda campaign to gain a huge popular base for Photius, and under popular pressure Constantinople caved in.

The unhappy Eastern clergy and Western clergy petitioned the Pope to intervene, which he did.

Negotiations dragged on for about 15 years, until the Emperor finally conceded his position.

In the mean time, Photius had been sacked/overthrown because he was a totally inept Bishop, and a new Bishop was in place. But the new Bishop already had Photian tendencies, and refused to reconcile with Rome. And so, the new Patriarch and the Pope mutually excommunicated each other.

(6-9) Hmm, I took it that your use of "after Constantine's conversion" and "first five centuries" to be equivalent. Anyhow, Constantine made Christianity the state religion before he actually converted to the religion himself. And this "Constantine's political ambition" red-herring smacks of Dan-Brown-style history, which should not be the kind of history a theology student should be giving.

That having been said, I do not see any difference between "centralized administration" and "centralized administration role". Please clarify the difference that you see.

(10-11) But you have no evidence of a similar cover-up in Malaysian Churches or in fact even of molestation cases, so by de facto extending Ireland's situation to Malaysia, you are creating a conspiracy theory in Malaysia.

Not to mention of course, that this shows how badly you misunderstand the nature of Catholic Church organization, despite (supposedly) being familiar with the Catechism.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

You seem to enjoy charging me of committing fallacy of this and that, putting words into my mouth, missed my points, and have a skewed view of history.

1) I don't see it separated.

2) I don't know how does my saying that the church's orientation is similar with pro-gay's argument.

3) You are free to continue to suspect, but the main point that I made was on the what constitutes ethos.

4) You obviously didn't get my point at all. I NEVER charge Roman Catholic being sub-church because of what their priests have done. In fact, I never charge Roman Catholic church as sub-church. As shown in my post, I'm critical to the Roman Catholic as much as I am to non-Roman Catholic. You seem to missed this point again and again even though I have emphasize this a few times already in the post as much as in my comments.

My example of using the Methodist church was to emphasize that 1 Cor 3.4 that you quoted applies as much to the Roman Catholic church. The point Paul wrote to the Corinthians with that passage was because the some claimed that followers of Paul were more superior, some claimed that followers of Apollos were more superior. 1 Cor 3.21-23 shed light to this situation.

Besides, the very idea of judging each others having sub-doctrines is a question of authority: which authority decides which doctrines are sub?

Please bear in your mind that you are conversing with me, not John Chick. And non-Roman Catholic church does not function like Roman Catholic church. Seems that you are not familiar with non-Roman Catholic churches' character; thinking that one official stand of a non-Roman Catholic Christian represents the entire non-Roman Catholic church.

Simplistic or not is to the eyes of the beholder. So you are free to think that I am just as I'm free to think that you are.

I wrote, "The political ambition of both sides are seen after the post-council argument over canon 28 of the council. Since then there was already a tension between Rome and Constantinople. And such tension bubbled into the great schism in 1054 when both sides excommunicated each other."

I know about the filioque controversy but I don't know see how is your invocation of this in any degree affect what I wrote.

You wrote, "I took it that your use of "after Constantine's conversion" and "first five centuries" to be equivalent. Anyhow, Constantine made Christianity the state religion before he actually converted to the religion himself. And this "Constantine's political ambition" red-herring smacks of Dan-Brown-style history, which should not be the kind of history a theology student should be giving.

First, I am not sure if any informed person who discusses historical topic would equivocate "after Constantine's conversion" with "first five centuries". The only reason that I can think of is that the person confuses over these periods and at the same time think his correspondent share his own confusion.

Second, it was NOT Constantine who made Christianity the state religion. It was Theodosius. Constantine only legalized Christianity.

Third, you again falsely accused me for things that I didn't say. Not only that, you also accused my personality as a theological student because I seemed to you to be using Dan Brown-style-history, which I am not at all. By your these few sentences alone, I can draw up a list of fallacies, but I'm not into name-calling business which some really enjoy; which I can see that you are into it too.

You missed my point entirely on Malaysian churches. Of course I don't have evidents, if I have I don't need to urge churches to investigate. And precisely because we don't have evidents that we need to encourage victims to come out to testify should there be any.


Sze Zeng said...


I was not saying that Malaysian churches cover up these cases. I was saying that Malaysian churches should now encourage victims to come out since now we are aware of such cover ups at Ireland and how these cover ups have been affecting churches. Again, I'm on a problem prevention rather than witch-hunt which you accused me of. Your request of me to give evidents shows that you didn't get my point at all. If I have the evidents, I wouldn't ask Malaysian churches to encourage victims to come out anymore, but to go to take these churches to court with evidents in hand.

I do not wish to carry on with this conversation as I don't see how it can be constructive with all those reasons above. There was no engagement to the topic at all but a series of false accusations of me being anti-Catholic, putting words in my mouth, giving wrong historical data (Constantine's conversion/first five centuries; Constantine's legalizing Christianity/Theodosius making Christianity state religion), and an almost endless name-calling.

If you noticed, I have never in an instance name-call Roman Catholic church or those who I disagree with.

reasonable said...

vomit blood, haha...
[coded language - only the insiders here know how to decode]

Sze Zeng said...

Hi reasonable,

Hahaha.. Thanks for sharing.