Levada takes on the Times

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Cardinal William Levada

Cardinal William Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, has penned a caustic response to recent New York Times articles and editorials that were critical of how the church and Pope Benedict XVI have handled sexual abuse cases involving priests over the years, calling the coverage “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.”

This bold, Spiro Agnew-like counterattack on the press during a time of mounting evidence of a covered-up pedophilia epidemic in the church is all the more notable given that Levada is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office then-Cardinal Ratzinger held before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, helping to place that office in charge of all reports of pedophiliac priests, a move that critics have charged was made to shield the church from criticism.

“I ask the Times to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on,” Levada writes, giving a far more charitable view of the current pope than the general public is feeling right now.

Rather than these defensive counterattacks on the Times’ solid journalism and analysis, Levada should realize that this tactic is precisely the attitude that has people concerned about the church, which has yet to fully atone for its many sins, including those committed by the Pope.

Back home in San Francisco, the church continues to stiff the city for millions of dollars in real estate transfer taxes involving the deed transfers of hundreds of properties under Levada’s leadership, a strange move that many critics have speculated was done to shield church assets from the claims of sexual abuse victims.

To me, this seems deficient by any reasonable standards of morality and openness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major religious institutions, particularly one that aspires to leadership that we can and should count on.

Comments

It would seem to me that Levada doth protest too much. If there is nothing to defend, why do so? As the Romans in the time of the early Christians said, "If it is of God, it will survive; if not, it will crumble on its own." If Benedict is innocent, then that will be proven. If Levada is innocent, oh, never mind. He's already been shown to be complicit.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

War tactics should be applied to Vatican City ¬– where the devil takes his holiday
By Mike Ference
817 Worthington Avenue
Clairton, PA 15025
412-233-5491
Ference@icubed.com

Every day brings new evidence that we no longer live in a civilized and principled society. The worst part, it usually concerns another case of sexual misconduct involving a Catholic priest, young children and a church hierarchy that helped to cover up the case.

The Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal continues to spiral out of control from one country to the next; while the pope still refuses to solve the problem. It’s now clearly documented that across the globe tens of thousands of innocent girls and boys have been sexually violated – used and abused as sex toys by Catholic clergy, yet, nothing has or will ever be done. Thousands of pedophiles, former Catholic clerics, roam the world and no one really knows where these monsters are, how many victims they have left behind or how many more will suffer from priests trained to sexually abuse since their seminary days.

So — what should be done now that we know it’s a pattern of terror orchestrated by the Catholic Church hierarchy and repeated everywhere the dysfunctional sex freaks have established a church, school, hospital or other institution; then covered up in every layer of the all male run society – even by the pope, himself. Given the level of wreckage and anguish caused in the lives of so many people, it seems appropriate to look to the war on terror for a model strategy.

A first prong of attack at the Vatican might involve a Special Forces unit made up of highly skilled and trained military personnel capable of tracking down and obtaining confessions from any current or former priests accused of acts of sexual abuse against children. If rights are violated, if military personnel sometimes go a little too far, so be it. The Catholic Church had ample opportunity to fess up and repent. Those incapable of civilized behavior shouldn’t expect the rights and privileges of civilization.

A deck of cards can be created to help identify hard-to-find priests as well as the disgraceful church leaders who permitted, and in essence, condoned the sexual abuse of young children. Photos of the most deviant and reprehensible church officials accompanied by a list of their offenses will encourage us all to do our patriotic duty in helping the authorities track down suspected priest-terrorists or at least be able to identify the culprits as they come and go freely because their sins where covered up and the time to criminally prosecute has expired.

Another option would be to divide the world into territories. A color-code warning system would be established, alerting parents about abusive priests being transferred into their respective regions. Depending on the designated color for a particular region, parents would know whether their children should serve at Mass, go on field trips, or even attend Catholic school that day.

To aid this unique war on terror, a pool of money should be collected, not involuntarily from taxpayers, but voluntarily from those decent human beings who believe crimes committed against our children are sins that God takes very seriously. Some of the funds raised could then be turned into outrageously tempting reward sums for information leading to the capture of our targeted criminals. Once the rogue clerics have been imprisoned and forced to talk, I recommend that their confessions be given to someone like Steven Spielberg or George Romero. Hollywood writers and producers could create a blockbuster movie like Roots or Schindler’s List to serve as a bitter reminder that these crimes should never again be permitted to occur. Tom Savini could be hired to recreate the horror on the faces of child actors chosen to play parts.

Proceeds from the movie could go to victims of abuse and their families. And no matter how old the crime, compensation would be available. There should be no statute of limitations when the rights of children have been violated by those who lived much of their adult lives perched on a pedestal heightened by the trust of innocent and vulnerable believers. In fact, I would extend compensation to the second and perhaps even third generation of sufferers. It would certainly include siblings denied the experience of growing up with a brother or sister untraumatized by such abuse. And since crimes of abuse tend to echo, it would extend to the victims of the victims as well.

If all else fails, is it any less rational to declare war on the Catholic Church as part of a war on child abuse than it was to declare war on Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11 or Al-Qaeda and apparently had no weapons of mass destruction) as part of a war on terror? How many innocent children have been verifiably lost to this menace — and how many more will be lost if we don’t make a preemptive strike?

As horrific as sexual abuse by priests may be, the perpetrators might merit a more forgiving place if only their superiors had the courage to do the right thing. For a few, counseling and close supervision might have been enough to prevent future abuses. Others clearly required something more intensive — a mental hospital or a prison.

But repeated abuse, as well as willfully hiding the crimes and the criminals — as far as I can see, this brings us much closer to the realm of mortal sin. And the sinners include not just the church hierarchy, but also attorneys who ill-advised parents not to buck the system and take on the Catholic Church, or may even have provided inside information to thwart legitimate cases against the church, law enforcement officials who may have thought it best to warn church officials of pending investigations, and janitors, housekeepers, teachers, and employees of the Catholic Church who kept silent because of concerns about a paycheck, a 401K, a pension, or a fear of standing up to church authorities. God has a place for everyone — and if you abuse children or protect the abusers of children, we can only hope that your place is called hell.

Mike Ference has been an advocate for clergy sex abuse survivors for over 21 years. He has written about the problem and works with clergy abuse families in Pennsylvania and across the United States helping victims work through the corrupt bureaucratic maize of injustice. He attributes much of the problem to corrupt leaders in government, organized crime and Catholic Church hierarchy more concerned about power and money than the salvation of souls. He has labeled the commonwealth of Pennsylvania a Pro-pedophile state where Catholic clergy sex abuse cover-ups are still the norm. Mike can be reached at 412-233-5491 or email him at Ference@icubed.com.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

WHERE DOES THE BUCK STOP?

In a press release from the Holy See on March 9, 2010, "concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions," Director Fr. Federico Lombardi simply repeats some of the more clichéd responses and predictable excuses to the church's ever widening problems of sexual abuse, particularly the sexual abuse of minor children.

http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/EN1/Articolo.asp?c=362995

Contrary to what Lombardi says in the press release from the Vatican, the institutional Roman Catholic Church has reacted to the continuing sexual abuse debacle neither rapidly nor decisively and the Vatican continues to distance itself from what has happened in country after country, first categorizing it as an "American problem," then as a "homosexual problem" in the United States in 2002.

The church's response continues to be reactive rather than proactive while minimizing the systemic and endemic abuse of power and authority which enabled and exacerbated it on the one hand while covering it up whenever and wherever possible on the other.

The "wide-ranging context" is that in countries from the United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland to Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, church authorities have repeatedly and consistently disregarded the institution's own moral and Canon laws as well as the existing laws of the countries' in which these horrific crimes against humanity took place.

The church has lost its way.

If church authorities had done the morally right thing initially, one wonders how many children would have escaped being sexually abused by a particular priest?

As Patrick Wall, a former priest himself, states:

"The Roman Catholic Church has the largest body of knowledge of non-incarcerated sexual offenders in the world."

Who, one has to ask, would have more knowledge of the internal machinations utilized to cover-up and protect sexual predators from public scrutiny than Pope Benedict in his former position as Head of the Holy Office?

While attacks on individuals are regretable and counter productive, the fact is that Pope Benedict XVI is at the helm of the Barque of Peter. His challenge is see that actual church policy agrees with his statements in something as significant as the recent pastoral letter to Ireland.

What was done by church leadership in the United States, for example, it was forced to do by the pressure of public opinion after records, files and correspondence were forced into the public venue in 2002 by Judge Constance M. Sweeney, a very brave, grounded and principled Catholic woman of Boston, Massachusetts. As the facts show, the bishops of the United States at that time were forced to make the dicisions they made while many powerful bishops resisted calls to accountability and transparency every step of the way.

While Benedict has accepted two of the proffered resignations from the Irish bishops it is well to recall that not one bishop in the United States was removed from office because of his own complicity and collusion in covering up sexual abuse. Nor has anyone been forced to resign for violating then existing canon law or criminal or civil law.

Bishops in the United States like Bernard Cardinal Law and his auxiliaries in Boston, who were shown to have been complicit in protecting known sexual predators, should have been removed from office instead of being rewarded with a plum position in Rome as was Law, or their own dioceses as has been the case with the Boston auxiliary bishops. Sadly there are also examples of state authorities making deals with bishops that avoided any kind of prosecution, even though some had to admit guilt to get the deal. Moreover, In a shameless act of pure hubris, the bishops specifically chose not to hold themselves to the same standards of accountability they drew up for ordinary priests.

When are people of good will going to say, enough!

When are state legislators going to change the laws so that justice can be pursued for the thousands upon thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been unable to access let alone obtain justice?

In most states and probably in most countries, existing criminal as well as civil laws give more protection to sexual predators and their enablers then they do to victims of childhood sexual abuse by anyone. The problems with statutes of limitation which have expired are probably much the same in Germany and other European countries as they have been is in so many jurisdictions in the United States.

This is deplorable and should not be the case.

The removal of all statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children is the single, most effective way to hold predators and enabling institutions accountable before the law. More than that, window legislation allows a set time frame for previously time barred cases of sexual abuse by anyone.

It is possible to change the laws in order to give some semblance of justice to those ravaged at so tender an age. What is needed to effect that change is the will to hold all sexual predators of children accountable along with any enabling individuals or institutions.

The state of Delaware is one of a very few number of states in the United States which has removed all criminal and civil statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children by anyone. It also legislated a two year civil window for previously time barred cases, again, by anyone. That window closed in July of 2009.

In a civil suit, unlike a criminal suit, the burden of proof that any sexual abuse took place is on the plaintiff. The burden is not on the accused individual or institution to prove innocence, at least not in the United States.

Every victim of childhood sexual abuse should have a right to the pursuit of justice at the very least!

What people seem to forget is that children’s rights are human rights, that children’s rights are civil rights and that the hierarchy, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, has violated those children’s rights in the most profane of ways, not only by covering up for sexual abusers, mostly priests, but also by enabling the further abuse of untold numbers of children by these particular individuals who were known to be dangerous predators.

If Delaware can do it other states and other countries should be able to do it as well, and hold sexual predators and any enabling institutions responsible, especially when those institutions choose to ignore their own internal laws.

I was privileged to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of the 2007 Child Victims Law in Delaware.

No rules and no laws of any religious organization or denomination should be allowed to trump the laws of a civilized society where the protection of children is concerned.

Not only should the institutional Roman Catholic Church be held to the highest standard as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it should be leading by example and showing what can and should be done to protect children from sexual exploitation, from what really is another example of trafficking in individuals for purposes of sexual exploitation, nothing less.

By any objective standard the church has grossly violated the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child for decades.

Is it time to formalize those violations as the crimes against humanity they truly are?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

Posted by SMPTURLISH on Apr. 01, 2010 @ 2:37 am

I would like to ask Cardinal Levada why he has not defrocked or laicized the priest, Thomas M. Lee of Portland who molested my child at 3 years old! I met Levada in Falmouth, Maine and asked him (at the time) if he would ask Bishop Malone to reveal the names of the credibly accused pedophile priests who were living in neighborhoods with children. His response was if he happened to see him (they were celebrating in the SMALL back yard of the Falmouth Church! I told him that children were a priority!

Posted by Guest Marie Tupper on Apr. 01, 2010 @ 4:25 am

Stop complaining and take action. The www.reform-network.net has links to most reform organizations. The faithful have to make common cause in bringing reform and renewal into OUR CHURCH. This current, corrupt leadership will not do it. Check the American Catholic Council, Voice of the Faithful, www.richardsipe,com and others. But all those organizations have to close ranks for the common good of the church of God.

ERW

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

So-called "Cardinal" Levada is a piece of work. I've met him on several occasions when he was here in San Francisco, and it's hard to believe that this pompous blowhard has any position in any church let alone the catholic church. When I directly confronted him about the priest abuse scandal and how he and other bishops covered up the truth, he tried to physically run away from me. The man is not only a liar and a hypocrite, he's a coward as well. Without his red robes he's a petty little creature. It's time for catholics and all religious people to stand up to these phony self-appointed prelates. After getting rid of Ratzinger, catholics should dump Bertone and then Levada. The Vatican is full of corrupt and disgusting leaders.

Posted by Daishin David Sunseri on Apr. 01, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

I have had first hand experience with Cardinal Levada and his cronies in San Francisco

If you want proof of his corruption, and other clergy in San Francisco
look at my short youtube video,

- joey piscitelli

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpnkj1p_jPE

Posted by Guest Joey piscitelli on May. 10, 2010 @ 8:58 am

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