Sunday, February 17, 2013

Report: Pope Benedict XVI Stalled California Pedophile Case

Again, this article is a few years old but hardly any less relevant.

via Huffington Post:

LOS ANGELES — The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature. The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office. The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanors involving child molestation in 1978.

The Vatican confirmed Friday that it was Ratzinger's signature and said it was a typical form letter used in laicization cases. Attorney Jeffrey Lena said the matter proceeded "expeditiously, not by modern standards, but by those standards at the time," and that the bishop was to guard against further abuse. Another spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the letter showed no attempt at a cover-up. "The then-Cardinal Ratzinger didn't cover up the case, but as the letter clearly shows, made clear the need to study the case with more attention, taking into account the good of all involved." The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests. The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed; during that time he continued to do volunteer work with children through the church.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle were of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department. Lena, the Vatican attorney, said "paternal care" was a way of telling the bishop he was responsible for keeping Kiesle out of trouble. Lena said Kiesle was not accused of any child abuse in the 5 1/2 years it took for the Vatican to act on the laicization. The future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.
Cummins, his bishop, told the Vatican that the priest took a leave of absence and met with a therapist and his probation officer during the three years. It's not clear from the file where Kiesle lived during those years, but Cummins mentions temporary assignments in neighboring dioceses that never worked out. As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him. In his earliest letter to Ratzinger, Cummins warned that returning Kiesle to ministry would cause more of a scandal than stripping him of his priestly powers. "It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982.

While papers obtained by the AP include only one letter with Ratzinger's signature, correspondence and internal memos from the diocese refer to a letter dated Nov. 17, 1981, from the then-cardinal to the bishop. Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a week later. California church officials wrote to Ratzinger at least three times to check on the status of Kiesle's case and Cummins discussed the case with officials during a Vatican visit, according to correspondence. At one point, a Vatican official wrote to say the file may have been lost and suggested resubmitting materials. Diocese officials considered writing Ratzinger again after they received his 1985 response to impress upon him that leaving Kiesle in the ministry would harm the church, Rev. George Mockel wrote in a memo to the Oakland bishop.

"My own reading of this letter is that basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older," the memo said. "Despite his young age, the particular and unique circumstances of this case would seem to make it a greater scandal if he were not laicized." As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, the priest returned to suburban Pinole to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church, where he had been associate pastor from 1972-75. Kiesle was ultimately laicized on Feb. 13, 1987, though the documents do not indicate how or why. They also don't say what role – if any – Ratzinger had in the decision.
Kiesle continued to volunteer with children, according to Maurine Behrend, who worked in the Oakland diocese's youth ministry office in the 1980s. After learning of his history, Behrend complained to church officials. When nothing was done she wrote a letter, which she showed to the AP. "Obviously nothing has been done after EIGHT months of repeated notifications," she wrote. "How are we supposed to have confidence in the system when nothing is done? A simple phone call to the pastor from the bishop is all it would take."

She eventually confronted Cummins at a confirmation and Kiesle was gone a short time later, Behrend said.
Kiesle, who married after leaving the priesthood, was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations. He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Kiesle, now 63 and a registered sex offender, lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan's Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him for comment. William Gagen, an attorney who represented Kiesle in 2002, did not return a call for comment.
More than a half-dozen victims reached a settlement in 2005 with the Oakland diocese alleging Kiesle had molested them as young children. "He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap," said Lewis VanBlois, an attorney for six Kiesle victims who interviewed the former priest in prison. "When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said 'tons.'"

Cummins, 82 and now retired, initially told the AP he did not recall writing to Ratzinger about Kiesle, but he remembered when shown the letter with his signature on Friday. He said things had changed over the past quarter-century. "When he (Ratzinger) took over I think he was following what was the practice of the time, that Pope John Paul was slowing these things down. You didn't just walk out of the priesthood then," Cummins said. "These things were slow and their idea of thoroughness was a little more than ours. We were in a situation that was hands-on, with personal reaction."

Documents obtained by the AP last week revealed similar instances of Vatican stalling in cases involving two Arizona clergy. In one case, the future pope took over the abuse case of the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood. In the second, the bishop called Msgr. Robert Trupia a "major risk factor" in a letter to Ratzinger. There is no indication in those files that Ratzinger responded. The Vatican has called the accusations "absolutely groundless" and said the facts were being misrepresented.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry

via The Guardian:

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001. It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'. The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years. It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'. 'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

...The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church's opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims. 'In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,' Bertone said....A spokeswoman in the Vatican press office declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. 'This is not a public document, so we would not talk about it,' she said.

Pope Benedict 'complicit in child sex abuse scandals', say victims' groups

via The Guardian:

For the legions of people whose childhoods and adult lives were wrecked by sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is an unloved pontiff who will not be missed...Denef, 64, from the Baltic coast of north Germany, was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years. In 2003, Denef took his case to the bishop of Magdeburg. He was offered €25,000 (then £17,000) in return for a signed pledge of silence about what he suffered as a six-year-old boy...."We won't miss this pope," said Denef. He likened the Vatican's treatment of the molestation disclosures to "mafia-style organised crime rings"...That view was echoed by David Clohessy in the US, executive director of SNAP (Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests), an organisation with 12,000 members: "His record is terrible. Before he became pope, his predecessor put him in charge of the abuse crisis.

"He has read thousands of pages of reports of the abuse cases from across the world. He knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups than anyone else in the church yet he has done precious little to protect children." Jakob Purkarthofer, of Austria's Platform for Victims of Church Violence, said: "Ratzinger was part of the system and co-responsible for these crimes."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dreams! : UPDATED 2/5/13

warning: This post contains a lot of gruesome, violent details so sensitive readers may wish to avoid it.

Last night was one of the worst nightmares I've had in awhile. I dreamed about a friend of mine who organizes events where trauma-based mind control is a main topic of discussion, and for some reason I was reading her personal emails. Whether or not I had been given permission to do so or not was ambiguous. In the real world, reading a friend's personal emails without their permission is not something I would ever choose to do because it's a violation of trust, however that's what happened in the dream and it's probably absurd to apologize for dream activity(By the way, it's probably not a coincidence that email intrusions have been an issue in my personal life over the past couple months, an obvious example of my subconscious inserting itself into an otherwise "manufactured" dream). One email was written by a person in our network who wrote "We've been pretending to be friends, but now things are going to change". Then I was at a national park with a stocky brown-haired man with a moustache who had been buying me clothes. In reaction to noises coming from somewhere off the trail, the man began shooting his gun into the trees, at which point crowds near the parking lot went into a panic and people ran in every direction. He then told me that he was an operative who had been sent to kill me, and I was subsequently sequestered inside my house, trying to reason with the same sociopath for no good reason at all. I was having a hard time articulating my words and felt that I may have been drugged, that it was very important to stay awake and coherent even though it was hard to talk. It felt a lot like the sleep paralysis dreams I've had in the past. Then he said "Guess what? I'm right outside your window", and I woke up, right around 3 AM.

I didn't go back to sleep immediately because I knew I would go straight back to the dream like what usually happens with these epic nightmares that last the whole night. Instead I got online to check my blog stats only to see that someone was reading a previous blog post describing a different version of the same nightmare at the same time all this was happening. When I finally fell back asleep at 4 AM I indeed went straight back to the same dream. This time I was at a get-together hosted by the same friend mentioned above. The killer was there and he ran at me across the room with a syringe with a needle about a foot long pointed directly at me. I managed to grab his arm, wrench the needle out of his hand and plunge the needle deep into his chest, after which he seemed to have disappeared. Afterwards people were milling about, and some of them were even defending the man's character, stating that I was just "overreacting". I wasn't. The best part of all this is that the dream was abruptly interrupted by the sound of my dog whining, which is only the first or second time that he's done this in the nearly 6 months I've had him. Normally he waits for me to wake up before making these kind of requests. The first thing I saw upon awakening this morning was his snout pointed at my face from a few inches away, hooked over the edge of the bed. He sleeps on the floor because he's a growling bed hog and this behavior disturbs my sleep.

Last night was the third time now where I've had a dream about killing a contract/serial killer. All of these dreams have occurred over the past year and a half or so. In the last one, I was a shop employee for a serial killer who had been storing body parts in his fridge and freezer, like a stereotypical horror movie. I was responsible for routine maintenance tasks such as washing dishes and cleaning the floor. Basic janitorial stuff. One day I asked the killer a question that inadvertently revealed my hesitance to continue the work(It's been awhile so I don't remember it). Not too long afterwards he pulled the same move as the killer above, rushing at me from across the room, only this time he had a knife instead of a needle. In response I grabbed a meat cleaver from one of the racks and plunged it deep into his chest, again just like the other dream. This time, he would not stay dead (another horror movie cliche) and I had to keep stabbing him, eventually dismembering the killer completely before he was no longer a threat. Recurring serial killer dreams are a problem that have been with me since childhood, only up until the recent past I had always been helpless and immobilized in all of them. I've felt much more of a sense of resolution from the recent dreams, although, really, it would probably be for the best if they didn't exist at all. I'm looking forward to the day when they're gone for good.

This morning when I woke up I realized yesterday was Candlemas, also called Imbolc and Brigid, an astrological holiday that is supposed to be a potent time for divination and invocation work. Around 10 AM, I called my friend who organizes the events. She later told me that she was too groggy to respond, but upon seeing my phone number pop up, her first thought was that I had one of the dreams too. She called me a few hours later to tell me about her nightmare. It was so much like the post-apocalyptic dream I had this past December that I pulled the post I wrote about it up on my laptop to share it with her. As I was reading it, she said "What did you say about gangs?", and I had to inform her that this part was in the next sentence. Her dream was about the also stereotypical zombie apocalypse. Just like in mine, there had been a complete breakdown of civil society, with gangs and mafia organizations running rampant. All sporting events and holidays had been cancelled, and anyone wandering the streets was subjected to murder, beatings, rape and theft. The smell of urine and feces pervaded public buildings, and this contamination provided an avenue for spreading disease. Schooling was a right, not a privilege, so some people were able to maintain some semblance of order (probably within walled security compounds, although she didn't specify that part). Things got so bad that people were trying to get back into the prisons just to get away from the zombie hoards. She later sent me an email that included the following quotes: "they were unable to break down doors, unlock them, or break open windows, so once inside, one was relatively safe...Gangs took over camps and other places where people congregated. Having the street skills they have, they took full advantage of it and basically enslaved large groups of people, trading "protection" for all their valuables (which was now currency since regular money wasn't being used)...Cigarettes and similar things were used as currency. They kept people captive and controlled everything. Basically the lunatics taking over the asylum...People all over tried to migrate to find safer areas, and all over the country they were lugging suitcases and bags, many of which just got confiscated by the gangs who started taking control. With so many people so scared and confused, it created the perfect situation for them to do whatever they wanted, and there was no one to stop them. I saw no police (doesn't mean they weren't in some places, I know what I saw was by no means complete).
Sanitation became a real problem, with water being shut off in many places (even places where it should have remained working) and this really contributed to the contamination/infection spreading, but people seemed unaware that this was the case. Conflicts between gangs also became an issue, as they tried to grab power, build armies, get resources. To kill the zombies, decapitation was best. The ones I saw seemed more (bleah) "fresh", with discolored, blueish skin with some tearing of the skin." I randomly pulled up the legendary metal band Candlemass on Youtube to include a track in this post, and quite coincidentally, the first track that came up was an epic zombie video a la Michael Jackson's Thriller. Excuse the morbid humor, I can't stop watching this. :-)