John Allen at NCR has this bombshell of a report in which the Vatican seriously distanced themselves from Columbian Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, who according to reports praised a Bishop for refusing to report a priest who abused a child.

In effect, the Vatican statement suggests that Castrillón Hoyos was part of the problem which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, eventually solved.

The letter, first published by the French Catholic publication Golias, is addressed to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux, France, who was eventually sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to report a French priest, Fr. René Bissey, who was convicted in October 2000 for sexual abuse of eleven minor boys between 1989 and 1996.

Castrillón Hoyos’s letter congratulates Pican for not repoting Bissey to the French police and civil authorities. In the version published by Golias, it reads: “I rejoice to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and all the others bishops of the world, preferred prison rather than denouncing one of his sons, a priest.”

Tonight’s Vatican statement suggests that Castrillón Hoyos’s attitude was part of the reason that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, pressed for a more aggressive policy on the removal of predator priests.

In effect the then Cardinal Ratzinger was the one who instituted much of the reforms with regards to sexual abuse and Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos opposed those reforms saying that it ignored the idea that priests could be reformed and are in need of forgiveness.

The latter I’d agree with but the former is psychologically impossible.

If you’re looking for a fall guy for the sexual abuse crisis, look for more guys like this. Because it’s pretty telling when the Vatican decides not to defend one of their own Bishops.

0 thoughts on “Vatican Distances Itself From Cardinal’s Praise of Sex Abuse Defender”
  1. It’s odd that anyone should be surprised at the current sexual child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. It should not be surprising because for anyone who knows the history of the Church, rampant sexual abuses of all kinds were quite commonplace for centuries. During the Middle Ages the Church had absolute power over people, and the people had no power at all to do anything, nor anyone to complain to. One can only imagine the lurid events in convents, monasteries, abbeys and other houses of God. That clergy went on doing this until the present time is only natural.

    The trouble for the Church is, these days the environment outside the Church is different. A priest can no longer do as he pleases with the boys in church because these days the child can speak out without fear of being flogged by his parents, or bringing shame to the family, or excommunication, or even a visit to an Inquisition dungeon. So, the only difference between now and the 14th century is that now there’s an open press, a somewhat liberal society, and an inexorable distancing from religion and thus from the despotic yoke of the Church.

    But no one should expect the Pope to make the right thing now, namely defrock these pederast priests and hand them over to the civil authorities for prosecution, because that is not what popes do. No, popes do not have the interests of Justice and the victims in mind, they have the interests of the Holy Church in mind, and that means thinking in the long term. And when it comes to thinking ahead and thinking of what will be best for the Church in the long term, the answer is always demurrals, delays, silence, and stonewalling for decades—even generations—until there’s no one alive who lived through the events in question, and the events are forgotten by all except some historians. By the time they narrate the events in history books, the people are so detached that the stories sound almost quaint. It’s like stories of the massacres perpetrated by Catholics in the name of religion during the Crusades or even the Religious Wars. Or the tortures and persecutions of the Inquisition. Who is revolted by these things these days? We would if they had just happened. But we are not because they happened so long ago that we tend to view them in the same way as the barbarous actions of any people in antiquity. This is the strategy of silent popes. It has worked wonderfully for the Church in the past. It’s up to right minded people today to prevent it from working for them again.

    Gabriel Wilensky
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  2. A friend made the same despicable comment to me, that the Catholic Church had “always” countenanced clergy sexual abuse of children. Yet think about this: if priests had some sort of droit de seigneur over the millenia, the subject would be studied, debated, documented, argued, and proven or disproved, as has been “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” There is no such body of study. The fictional “Agnes of God” may have happened somewhere sometime. But this blog responder’s charge (“one can only imagine”) and my friend’s offhand comment are way off-base. Clergy sexual abuse is a terrible artifact of the 1950s-1980s we now see to be worldwide for which the church, starting with the pope and the hierarchy, must atone. WHEN are we going to pray about this as church?

    Speaking of true apologies and atonement, the Paulus Institute, which is sponsoring the Latin Mass on April 24 from which Cardinal Castrillon Hoyo has been dis-invited, thankfully, has one of the strongest statements of support I’ve seen for the victims. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042103720.html?hpid=sec-religion
    Would that every parish would welcome those who have been so hurt in this way. “The Paulus Institute regards all sexual abuse as tragic and a heinous sin and supports Pope Benedict’s fight to rid this disease from the Church. It stands on the side of every victim of clerical sexual abuse and earnestly desires to bind up the wounds done to their human dignity, to vindicate their civil and canonical rights, and to help them in the restoration in Christ of all they have lost. To that end, the Paulus Institute supports the directives by the Supreme Roman Pontiff and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that all bishops should report crimes of sexual abuse to the police in accordance with the requirements of civil law. However, the Paulus Institute is not competent, nor does it have the facts, to form an opinion about the about recent media reports concerning Cardinal Castrillon.”

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