Epilogue - The Case of the Pope
By GEOFFREY ROBERTSON QC - -
Added: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 18:52:54 UTC
The book is now published in Italian, German, Spanish editions, and will be published in France in January. Here is the epilogue to the French edition. There is as yet no updated English version.
This book was completed in August 2010, and published in time for the Pope’s visit to Britain the following month. En route, he made his most grovelling apology yet for the damage caused by clerical sex abuse, expressing “deep sorrow” for these “unspeakable crimes”. He made a similar apology at the outset of his visit to Germany in September 2011. But he does not have the moral integrity to take the action that is necessary to cleanse the Catholic church of its stigmata, namely to abjure any role for canon law in dealing with allegations of molestation, and to require bishops and church officials to report them to the police. In truth, Benedict is incapable of understanding the nature of the problem – he is too old, too academic, and too ready to blame anything but Catholic practices for the explosion of sexual abuse within the church. His last Christmas message was to blame it all on pornography, sex tourism and the ‘moral relativism’ of the 70’s: “In the 1970’s, paedophilia was seen as a natural thing for men and children” he said - a preposterous statement, except to the unworldly Cardinals he was addressing(1). For all his fine words about feeling the pain of victims, he still does not get it: the church, by delivering trusting boys from the age of seven to untrustworthy priests who believe – with good reason – that they can get away with abusing them, is guilty of negligence when they do abuse them. By blaming pornography and sex tourism, Benedict excuses their crimes. He lacks the gumption to tell his paedophile priests – as Christ surely did – that they will burn in hell, if they are not first drowned in the depths of the sea.
Since this book’s first English language publication, more evidence has come to light of the Vatican’s behind-the-scenes efforts to protect its child-molesting priests from civil authorities. ‘Wikileaks’ published cables from US diplomats at the Vatican who observed the fury of its officials about the Murphy and Ryan enquiries in Ireland, (see paras 30-35) whose requests for information were contemptuously refused because they were “insulting” to Vatican sovereignty. More damning was the discovery of a 1997 letter from John Paul II’s envoy to Ireland, written to Catholic bishops in order to veto a proposal by their advisory committee to make reporting of paedophile suspects to the police mandatory. The letter, which must have emanated from or been dictated by the CDF under Dr. Ratzinger, said in terms “mandatory reporting gives rise to serious reservations both of a moral and canonical nature…. In the sad cases of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed”. There could be no clearer demonstration of the Vatican’s secret policy of directing bishops to avoid co-operation with law enforcement. The letter went on to tell them that if they failed to follow the secrecy provisions of Canon law meticulously, any action against paedophile priests would be overturned, i.e. by Cardinal Ratzinger at the C.D.F. in Rome.
This actually happened in the Tony Walsh case, the details of which the Murphy commission could not release until criminal proceedings against him ended. Walsh was well-known to be a paedophile priest, who over fifteen years raped many boys before the church finally ordered his defrocking in 1993. But he appealed to Ratzinger’s CDF, which overruled the sentence and ordered that he be sent to a monastery instead – where of course he managed to rape other boys. He was caught by police in 1996, sexually attacking a youth in a public lavatory after attending a family funeral. This part of the Murphy report, released after Walsh was jailed in December 2010, showed that his abuse of children was well-known to fellow priests and even to the Archbishop of Dublin, who went to Rome in 1993 to beg the Pope to uphold the defrocking order. But John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger turned a deaf ear as well as a blind eye, until Walsh’s arrest in the lavatory. He was then defrocked, but not prosecuted until 2010, when he was finally jailed.
Read more (19 pages)
(1) The Guardian, 21 December 2010: “Pope blames 1970’s for sex abuse in church”.
The English version is available online at the RDFRS store
"The Case of the Pope" delivers a devastating indictment of the way the Vatican has run a secret legal system that shields paedophile priests from criminal trial around the world. Is the Pope morally or legally responsible for the negligence that has allowed so many terrible crimes to go unpunished? And, should he and his seat of power, the Holy See, continue to enjoy an immunity that places them above the law? Geoffrey Robertson QC, a distinguished human rights lawyer and judge, evinces a deep respect for the good works of Catholics and their church. But, he argues, unless Pope Benedict XVI can divest himself of the beguilements of statehood and devotion to obsolescent canon law, the Vatican will remain a serious enemy to the advance of human rights.
Kenneth R. Weiss - LA Times Comments
In the Philippines, access to contraceptives is limited for the most part to those with the means to pay. The Catholic Church has fought a "reproductive health bill" in the legislature that would change that.
- - BBC News Comments
The former butler to Pope Benedict XVI will stand trial for stealing confidential papers and leaking them to the press, a magistrate has ruled.
George Eaton - NewStateman Comments
Archbishop of Glasgow: Labour MP David Cairns died because he was gay
Tom Hennigan - IrishTimes.com Comments
ARGENTINA’S FORMER military dictator said he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy.
Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in session in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month. Photograph: Tami Chappell/Reuters