"Love the SINNER, Hate SIN,
Blame The VICTIM???"
IN AN investigation spanning 21 countries across six continents, The Associated Press (AP) found out that four of the 30 Catholic priests, involving abuse cases, were Filipinos.
Pope Francis has won over many critics in his brief time as head of the Catholic Church by presenting a more humane and empathetic face of the Church. His calls for compassion for vulnerable and marginalized members of society have won praise from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, leading in part to his selection as TIME’s Person of the Year for 2013.
However, his biggest test may be yet to come: dealing with the Vatican’s infamous record of sexual-abuse cases against children and the alleged cover-ups protecting pedophile priests. The scandals suggest decades-long histories of abuse, spanning continents and implicating eminences high up in the church.
On Jan. 16, this will come to a head when a U.N. committee concludes its investigation into the Holy See’s compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Vatican officials will be subject to a daylong public grilling in Geneva. It’s the first time the Holy See will be called to answer, at length, for its record of tackling child sex abuse before an international body. Leading the church’s delegation of five will be Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva, and Monsignor Charles Scicluna, its former chief sex-crimes prosecutor.
Katherine Gallagher, a senior attorney with the U.S.-based advocacy group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), says: “While we may have seen a different tone for marginalized groups from Pope Francis, we have yet to see a change with the way the Vatican deals with sexual violence by members of the Catholic clergy.” The CCR has called for an investigation and prosecution of those allegedly responsible by the International Criminal Court, collecting more than 22,000 pages of supporting evidence, including testimonies from victims, police reports and findings of international commissions of inquiry and grand juries. It has also submitted evidence to the U.N. committee’s investigation, writing, “serious breaches of obligations under the Convention [on the Rights of the Child] continue under the new Pope” and “children continue to be at risk.”
Gallagher points to two recent developments as examples of the Vatican’s troubled record on the issue: its refusal in November to share with the U.N. details of its own investigations into cases of alleged sexual abuse of children and reports from Polish prosecutors in January that the Vatican had turned down an extradition request from Warsaw for Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who is under investigation for alleged sex abuse, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated on the issue.
Wesolowski was removed from his post as papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic in August and dismissed from office when allegations emerged that he had sexually abused young boys. The Vatican has since denied that there was such an extradition request, but have indicated that Wesolowski is facing a criminal investigation by the Vatican’s own criminal court — which John L. Allen Jr., senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, describes as “revolutionary” for the church.
Though Pope Francis has remained relatively quiet on sex-abuse cases, there have been several steps taken on the issue during his leadership. In April, shortly after becoming Pontiff, Francis directed the church’s enforcement arm, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to act more decisively on abuse cases. In the summer, the Holy See’s criminal code was updated to criminalize sexual violence against children, which in the previous law existed in a general form as a crime against “good customs.” And just before the close of last year, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, one of the eight cardinals advising the Pope, announced Francis’ decision to establish a commission on the sexual abuse of children by priests, focused on providing emotional and spiritual care for victims of abuse rather than playing any judicial function.
For some victims and survivors, these steps are not enough. “Pope Francis, as boss, is enabling sexual predators by failing to hold them accountable,” says Barbara Blaine, the founder and director of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Blaine, who says her priest in Toledo, Ohio, abused her as a teenager between 1969 and 1974, criticizes the church’s emphasis on conducting its own investigations, arguing that historically it has failed to address the problems. “Many of us who were abused by an assistant pastor looked to the pastor to make things right, then the bishop, then the Vatican,” she says. “No one fixed the problem. What authority in the world can hold the Vatican accountable?”
Blaine says however that she and other survivors do hold out hope: “We have to have hope because of what is at stake. What’s at stake is more children being violated. I believe change is possible, with the reforms that Pope Francis is bringing about, why not?”
“The church is trying to change, but for some people it is taking too long,” acknowledges Danny Sullivan, who heads the U.K.-based National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, an independent body that works within the framework of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to police its approach to abuse cases and safeguarding work. Sullivan welcomes Francis’ decision to establish a commission on sexual-abuse cases, given the many areas he has to deal with, but accepts that from the victims’ perspective, “the jury is still out until they see that the Vatican has made significant changes.”
The Vatican turned down TIME’s request for comment on the upcoming hearing, but among the questions church officials will be expected to address in Geneva include how it is making sure that known abusive priests are kept from further contact with children. The U.N. committee, which is made up of independent experts, will make its final observations and recommendations on Feb. 5. While their recommendations are not binding, Gallagher hopes the process will encourage meaningful reform and make people “recognize that this is not a problem of the past.”
Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis said:
But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money.... The shame of the Church!
But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity? Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! 'But, I wear a medal,' ‘I carry the Cross ' ... Yes, just as those bore the Ark!
Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those for whom scandals come ... And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests.
From AP:IN AN investigation spanning 21 countries across six continents, The Associated Press (AP) found out that four of the 30 Catholic priests, involving abuse cases, were Filipinos.
Here are snapshots of the cases:
Rev. Cristobal Garcia
Garcia was expelled from the Dominican order in 1986 after a nun told police that an altar boy had been found in his bed in a Los Angeles rectory. The priest left for his hometown in the Philippines in Cebu province, where he continued to serve and in 1997 was given the title of monsignor.
Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, media director of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said he had not heard about the Garcia case but that it should be looked into.
Garcia told the Dallas Morning News that he did have sex with the boys, but claimed he was the one who was "seduced and raped," a charge his accusers called absurd. A plaintiff, Paul Corral, said he had obtained a financial settlement.
Rev. Manuel Perez Maramba OSB (a.k.a. Father Benildus (Benildo) Maramba OSB)
The Diocese of El Paso has settled its third lawsuit involving alleged abuse by Father Manuel Perez Maramba, OSB, a Philippine priest who ministered at a New Mexico parish from 1976 to 1977. A portion of New Mexico was under the jurisdiction of the Texas diocese at the time.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported in 2009 that Manuel Perez Maramba is the professional name of Father Benildus (Benildo) Maramba. Father Maramba, a monk at Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey in Manila, is one of the Philippines’ most prominent musicians and liturgists. The former director of the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy, he compose the music for the papal Mass during the 1995 World Youth Day. According to the Tokyo Opera Association, which performed one of his compositions,
Maramba is one of the leading musical figures in the Philippines today and one of the most important musicians who emerged during the second half of the 20th century. After finishing his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano at the University of Sto. Tomas Conservatory of Music, he did further studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, obtaining his Master of Music degree at the age of 19.
His artistry developed and took form in all of the western world's most formidable musical institutions, namely; the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University where he received his Master of Music in Piano, Artist Diploma in Piano, Bachelor of Music in Composition and Teacher's Certificate in Theory; Yale University's School of Music for his Master of Musical Arts in Performance; the Kirchenmusikschule in Regensburg, Germany where he studied sacred music; and the Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna, Austria where the studied piano, organ and harpsichord.
Father Maramba remains on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music of the University of Santo Tomas.
A prominent canon lawyer, Father Maramba is also a member of the faculty of the Conservatory of Music of the University of Santo Tomas. He serves on the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, according to the Philippine bishops’ web site.
“We tried to serve him with papers, but he managed to avoid them,” said S. Clark Harmonson, attorney for the alleged victim in the most recent lawsuit involving Father Maramba.
Rev. Santiago Tamayo
After Tamayo was accused of abusing Rita Milla in the Los Angeles area, the church urged Tamayo to stay in the Philippines and mailed him checks, court documents show.
Milla has maintained that she was molested by Tamayo at a church in Carson, Calif., when she was 16. After she turned 18, she said, she had sexual intercourse with Tamayo and he introduced her to six other priests who also abused her.
After she was impregnated in 1982 by another priest at a Los Angeles-area church, Milla said, Tamayo suggested she get an abortion, then devised a plan to send her to the Philippines to have the child.
Milla returned to California after giving birth to her daughter, Jacqueline. She sued the archdiocese in 1984, and won a $500,000 settlement.
Tamayo later went to the Philippines. In 2004, Milla's lawyer released documents showing the church mailed him checks. In three letters, church officials advised him not to reveal the source of the payments "unless requested under oath," noting that he was "liable for personal suits arising out of your past actions."
Tamayo admitted he had sex with Milla and publicly apologized years before his death in 1999.
Experts say the church is facing a crisis of historic proportion. "This is the type of problem that arises really once in a century, I think, and it might even be more significant," said Paul Collins, an Australian church historian and former priest.
It is feared that the church scandals could be the final blow on the laity whose commitment are already wavering. A growing number of the faithful demands the church to be transparent, fight against pedophiles and reconsider the rule of priestly celibacy.
Rev. Moises Alexis C. Javier
Javier was accused by two altar boys (one 18 and another 19 at the time) of molesting them in 2001-02 at a Catholic school about three hours west of Manila, in the Philippines.
Javier left in 2002. The former bishop of his diocese told the AP that Javier went to the U.S., where his parents and a sister live. "We allowed him," the former bishop said. "His mother got sick and he went there to take care of her."
Ryan Mau, the parish secretary at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rowland Heights, Calif., said Javier was the parish's associate pastor for two years, starting sometime in 2003. Javier died on Jan. 23, 2008.
The AP has copies of two letters sent in June 2002 by the lay leaders at the St. Columban parish in Olongapo to then-Bishop Deogracias Iniguez and other diocesan leaders about the alleged abuse.
Frustrated by the lack of action, one of the lay leaders, Olet Enriquez, e-mailed the Vatican in September 2003 to report the alleged sexual harassment. He said he got an unsigned reply telling him to take his case to the papal nuncio in Manila. He said he sent a lengthy follow-up letter to the same Vatican e-mail address in January 2004, restating the case, but never got a reply!