Pages

Monday, August 25, 2014

Archbishop rapes Dominican children and gets away with it: Pope Francis where is your zero tolerance policy?

For the first time, according to the New York Times, a top Vatican ambassador — a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Sneaking around Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in black track pants and a baseball cap, he would walk along the oceanfront promenade where poor shoeshine boys worked and lure them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero. The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts.

They never knew his identity until his picture was front page local news and after he was suddenly recalled to Rome: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Before the Vatican shipped him out, a local video crew got a tip about the stealthy molester and went to film him – he then disappeared from the waterfront.  According to Dominican law enforcement authorities Wesolowski began sending a young Dominican church deacon to procure children for him.

The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013, accused of solicitation of minors, and jailed. Although Reyes wrote to Wesolowski  he was ignored and left in jail. In his letter Reyes said, “We have offended God” and the church by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.”

We all remember the recent claims of Pope Francis, who called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”

Was he punished?  Wesolowski received “the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law short of excommunication: he was defrocked by the Vatican.   What terrible punishment for him! How does that help the abused children? What justice do they get? The Vatican says that it intends to try Wesolowski on criminal charges — we know what a great job they do policing themselves. What about criminal prosecution in a real court of law like any other criminal? What about sending him back for a jail sentence in the Dominican Republic?

It didn’t happen because the church, acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Wesolowski so he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. Diplomatic immunity ensures that diplomats like the serial pedophile Wesolowski cannot be sued or prosecuted in the country where they committed crimes and are given safe passage back home. This is a failure of justice for the sexually abused children.

Has the church changed?  Is there still a culture of accepted and covered up child abuse? Where are the authorities?  The United Nations recently condemned the Vatican’s behavior in handling child sex abuse cases – will they say something?  If the Roman Catholic Church is serious about dealing with child sexual abuse they need to revoke Wesolowski’s diplomatic immunity, return him to Dominican Republic, and give authorities the evidence to convict him. We don’t know if Vatican representatives are committing the same crimes against children in other countries, but their failure to turn over Wesolowski to local authorities ensures that such crimes will be repeated over and over while pope francis ensures us how much he cares about the children.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Latin Mass, Nazis and anti-Semitism: What is pope Francis thinking?

An article in the Washington Post (originally reported by Lilly Fowler, the religion reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 6, 2014) talked about the “rising popularity of the Latin Mass.” Because pope Francis has not been wearing some of the fancy garments that previous popes (like pope benedict) wore, some Roman Catholics were worried that Francis wouldn’t  be saying the old Latin Mass – called the Tridentine Mass -- and that not saying it was threatening  traditional worship. 

But the Latin Mass, not much celebrated for the last few decades is “alive and well”.  In fact, according to the Post, “a throwback movement is growing, in many cases with young people leading the charge.”  There is even a Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a nonprofit based in Glenview, Ill., that promotes the Latin Mass. There is a slow but steady rise in the practice, with more than 400 churches offering the Latin mass today.

This is really dangerous.  Why? Because the Tridentine Mass has long been associated with anti-Semitism and Nazis – including neo-Nazis.   I previously posted information about this Mass (9/14/13 and 5/20/14) because many people do not know the history.  There are others who do know the history and promote this Mass for their own agendas. 

Back in 2011 Nicole Winfield reported (09/16/11 Huffington Post) that Jewish groups were worried about the vatican’s relationship with a group of Catholics, including a bishop, Richard Williamson, who denies that the Holocaust ever happened -- that Nazi gas chambers were used for mass killing.  This Swiss-based society of st. pius X (SSPX) believes that Christ's death was the fault of all Jews. They favor the Tridentine Mass because it includes a prayer that asks God to lift the veil so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness.

The real darkness is in the black heart of this neo-Nazi society and popes who support it: Benedict who said SSPX could come back into the “fold” without having to give up their beliefs and lifted Williamson’s excommunication; and Francis gave indications that he might welcome SSPX back by supporting a Pontifical Commission called Ecclesia Dei, which has tried to lead the SSPX flock back into the fold. 

SSPX allows convicted Nazi war criminals to be buried in their church cemeteries. In the 1990s the group had harbored Nazi collaborator and war criminal Paul Touvier.   Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, one of Rome’s top dogs, wrote a letter to SSPX priests, pleading for “reconciliation and healing.”

SSPX is a growing danger because they have six seminaries, three universities and 70 primary and secondary schools around the globe. In addition to Williamson it has three other bishops, more than 550 priests and 200 priests in training.  Are they training to incite another Holocaust?   Pope Francis doesn’t talk about the real issues -- these skeletons in the vatican closet.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Excuse for Abuse: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests celebrates 25 years of fighting child abuse by catholic clergy






When victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests first organized into a small band of volunteer activists: the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in the late 1980s, reports of clergy molesting children were still new and relatively few. Most were minimized as “single occurrences” or dismissed altogether — much the way the victims were.

But today, as SNAP, marks its 25th anniversary at a conference in Chicago (Aug. 1-3), its members can take satisfaction in seeing that its claims have been validated, and that a few (though hardly all) of its recommendations have been implemented by the church hierarchy.  (www.snapnetwork.org)

Because of SNAP’s advocacy on the Catholic scandal, victims now are much more likely to come forward to tell their stories, whether they were abused by clergy, by nuns, by athletic coaches or Boy Scout leaders or others.

SNAP soon developed a core membership of a few thousand people, mainly victims, who met in small support groups while also trying to push the issue onto the public agenda but the public was indifferent or outright hostile.

Then in January 2002, The Boston Globe began its groundbreaking series exposing the widespread abuse of children by priests in the Boston archdiocese, and the cover-up by bishops. The story caught fire and led to similar revelations across the nation and to an unprecedented level of media coverage, prosecutions and lawsuits.

SNAP’s membership took off, and now stands at more than 19,000, with 60 chapters around the U.S. and eight overseas.  SNAP spends time and money helping survivors, maintaining support groups and providing costly legal support in cases against the perpetrators.

The 2014 SNAP Annual Conference will be a "reunion" conference on August 1-3, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel in Chicago.
 
“No Excuse for Abuse” SNAP tee shirts (see photo) will be offered at the Conference for a donation of $15.00 to Boston-Worcester SNAP. The shirts come in adult sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL.  Checks should be made out to the Chapter Director, David O'Regan at 65 Greenville St., Spencer MA. 01562.  All funds from the proceeds will help Boston-Worcester SNAP survivors along with helping monthly chapter expenditures.


I encourage all survivors of child sexual and physical abuse to join SNAP as I have – they are kind, supportive people – most are survivors themselves and they understand that together we will survive and thrive and stop the abusers.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Priest charged with sexual abuse in Portugal hospital: a worldwide menace in the name of God

A priest (no name given, see his photo) and his accomplice, a hospital employee, are charged with sexually abusing patients between 2004 and 2010 in several Portuguese hospitals run by a roman catholic order:  "The charge relates to the sexual abuse of four patients in the care of institutions run by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God," prosecutors said in a statement this week.  One of the hospitals mentioned in the indictment is an institution specialized for the mentally ill.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beware! The order operates more than 250 medical centers around the world:  in Africa, Asia, Australia, all of Europe, Mexico and South America and in the U.S. in Los Angeles and New Jersey. Here we have representatives of the roman catholic church who advertise that they are “a national charity helping vulnerable people to lead fulfilling lives and reach their potential.”  Note the word, “vulnerable” – that is just the people these criminals prey upon.  They “treat” people with learning and physical disabilities, people with mental health problems, those who have difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse and migrants who are vulnerable to homelessness – all those who cannot defend themselves.  They hide behind God and have the nerve to call themselves (in Italian): Fatebenefratelli, meaning "Do-Good Brothers".   “Do-Evil” is more like it.

This latest church scandal comes when the Portuguese catholic church is already under fire for the case of another priest named Luis Miguel Mendes. He was sentenced in 2013 to ten years in prison for the sexual abuse of six minors aged between 13 and 15.

A good example of how the Saint John of God “brothers” operate is what they did in New Zealand.

Marylands School which taught pupils with learning difficulties in Christchurch, New Zealand was the scene of a high-profile scandal with sexual charges made against three members of the order.  By 2006, the Australasian branch of the Saint John of God order had paid out $5.1 million to survivors who had been sexually abused at the school. Over 120 complaints were made in regard to sexual and physical abuse that occurred at the school, most in the 1970s.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, a Saint John of God brother, age 65, received 21 guilty verdicts, pleading guilty to only one charge of sexually abusing boys. There were nine victims aged between 7 and 15 at the School where McGrath was a teacher and housemaster.   The five-year jail term he got produced an angry reaction from people packing the High Court in Christchurch: "Die, you ... priest," said one man. "What a waste of time," said another as McGrath was led away to the cells.   A man who had been at Marylands and knew the nine men McGrath had abused, said: "I'm not too impressed. This sentence is not going to bring closure for the boys." The manager of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, Ken Clearwater, said he was in shock. "Five years is a joke. For what that man's done, it's an insult to the victims. I know there will be a lot of men hurting out there at the moment. I hope they have supports in place to help them get through this."

McGrath had two earlier prison terms - three years in Christchurch in 1993 and nine months in Sydney, Australia for similar offending – the church knew this and kept supporting him. The judge was skeptical of his current claims of remorse. It was determined that McGrath had not made full admissions in 1993 and had  received a two-year "discount" on his sentence for his phony “full and frank” admissions of guilt. "You were there to be their protector. In truth you were their abuser," said the judge. "They had nowhere to turn, no one to go to. It is no wonder they reacted in such a distressing way when they gave evidence."

Before the sentencing, the church had McGrath attending a sex offenders' course in the United States and another offenders program New Zealand.  It is common knowledge that sexual offenders are never cured by such programs or by any type of therapy – even castration.  Once a rapist, always a rapist.  But the church persists in useless actions like these and just moves the “cured” offender to the next parish where he resumes raping.  "I don't think you should ever be placed, or allow yourself to be placed, in the situation where you are with young people," said the judge. Crown prosecutor Kerryn Beaton said McGrath's sexual abuse had been marked by violence, threats and sometimes cruelty. 

In 2008 another brother Roger Maloney, head of the Marylands School, was found guilty of seven sex abuse charges. After being extradited from Australia, he was jailed for three years for committing sex offenses. After serving 13 months of a 33-month sentence he was paroled and accepted back into the Australian branch of the Order of St John of God.  A former member of the order's professional standards committee, psychologist Michelle Mulvihill, said the return of Maloney was "shocking".   About taking care of Maloney, Mulvihill said, “The order will do that in secure, safe accommodation, where he will live in supervised retirement." Mulvihill doubts Maloney will be kept under observation. "There will be no supervision for him. The idea it is like some kind of lockup is just silly. The only rule will be not to talk to the media," she said.

Another brother, Raymond John Garchow was given a stay of proceedings relating to eight charges over the sexual abuse of boys because he was too ill to stand trial.

So the scenes are repeated: rape and abuse of children by clergy and cover up by the church, light sentences and support in retirement for even the worst offenders. Do we believe pope francis when he says he is doing something about the clergy abuse problem?  It doesn’t ring true. Francis will meet with abuse victims – how does that help the hundreds of thousands of children and women and helpless people still being abused all over the world? As the vatican always does, there are many meetings and commissions but no results. The abuse continues.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catholic bishops judged by the company they keep: Pope Francis doesn’t hold them accountable.

Every spring the American bishops meet at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As usual, protecting children is not a key initiative for the bishops. The chairman of their National Review Board stated that the church "continues to slowly make progress" on the child abuse issue. Although urged not to be so untroubled about clergy sexual abuse of minors, the bishops spoke little of holding one another accountable for failures in protecting children.

Besides their lack of concern about the children, they invited a controversial speaker: W. Bradford Wilcox, co-author of an article in the Washington Post about violence against women. Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia outraged every major publication on the Internet by saying that one way to end violence against women is for women to stop sleeping around and get married. Sounds like a ridiculous statement but maybe this is what bishops want to hear.  They don’t want to hear that the problem is actually abusive men, not unmarried women.

Said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, “We're saddened but not surprised that America's bishops have invited a man to speak to them who minimizes and mischaracterizes abuse.”

Bishops often consult with questionable "experts," like Paul McHugh who said “I believe that the belligerent frenzy characteristic of media reports on priestly sexual abuse has done much damage and needs to stop."  The bishops liked him so much they put McHugh on their first National Review Board overseeing the pedophile priest crisis.

McHugh previously testified on behalf of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a priest A. Joseph Maskell, who were sued in 1995 by two women who claimed the priest raped them in the 1970s as high school students. The women sought an exemption to the statute of limitations on such lawsuits, arguing that post-traumatic stress disorder prevented them from recalling the rape for 20 years. McHugh discounted the scientific validity of such recovered memory of sexual abuse.  The Maryland Court of Appeals sided with McHugh.

When the bishops do think about the abuse crisis, it’s about the priests, not the victims. They send accused predator priests to therapists like Father Benedict Groeschel, who said in 2012: “In many cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 is the seducer.” He made the comments while being interviewed by the National Catholic Register who later removed the interview from their website. Groeschel  even had sympathetic words for convicted Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky:  “Here’s this poor guy Sandusky. It went on for years. Interesting. Why didn’t anyone say anything?”

The bishops have a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People but when someone asked  the chairman of their conference whether all of the bishops are implementing it in their dioceses, the chairman said, "We are not able to say that."


If we are judged by the company we keep it is easy to see who the bishops are—self-serving, misogynists, sympathizers with child rapists and defenders of criminal clergy.  They have a long heritage of putting themselves and the church first at the expense of children, families and God.  


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Clergy rape and torture of children reflects catholic church policy: Tell us the truth Pope Francis.

Genocide was and is a way of life in the catholic church. A little bit of church history will explain how priests and nuns, enabled and protected by their superiors can continue to torture and kill children and defenseless adults: They choose to perpetuate such atrocities while hiding behind God. No one as yet has stopped them.

Where did the basic teaching of Christ – non violence, get perverted to become the church’s decree that any violence is acceptable and unpunishable if done to preserve and further the church’s agenda?

Alex Wilhelm writing for the Huffington Post said (May 5, 2010) that in the last 50 years some 30,000 people in 25 countries reported abuse committed by the catholic church. Only one-third of victims ever report rape; it is very under-reported. Wilhelm says “this statistic is nothing less than horrifying.” But how much more goes unreported when it is done to mentally ill or retarded children, those in third world countries and orphans -- many of them too young or too damaged to talk -- or those who are too devastated to report abuse or are dead. Says Wilhelm, “Tragically, the odds are quite high that there are children in the world this very day who will be sexually abused by their priest.”

Child rape and abuse is not a new problem in the church. There was NEVER a time when the church prevented or stopped these atrocious crimes. Says Wilhelm, “The church has hung itself with its own paper trail and history.” Commenting on the repeated scandals in the media, Wilhelm says, “Each successive blow has added to a growing global discontent against a Church that claims to know God yet in these affairs seems to lack even basic human decency.”

Church documents from 70 A.D. talked about banning the murder and rape of children. Nothing was done to stop these crimes. The church excluded and condemned all non-Christians: “unbelievers deserve not only to be separated from the church but also…to be exterminated from the world by death: Thomas Aquinas 1271 Summa Theologica.

In 309, the church wrote "Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune, even when death approaches." No sacraments for rapist priests but the crime was not reported to civil legal authorities, same as today. In 1049, Saint Peter Damian wrote that the clergy was “a veritable cesspool and dedicated the "Book of Gomorrah," to the pope. He condemned sodomy against both children and young priests and said, “True reform in the Church begins at the top - with a strong and independent papacy”. Same story, no results.

In 1231, the church began “inquisitions” or “witch hunts” designed originally to question and kill Jewish and Muslim converts to Christianity suspected of still practicing their religions. Pope gregory IX assigned inquisitions to the dominican order of nuns and priests who condemned, tortured or murdered dissenters. In 1252, pope innocent IV authorized the dominicans' use of torture and they never stopped using it. They used it on me.

In 1578 the inquisitors’ handbook said that punishment wasn’t for the person being punished – it was for the public so others “may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.” They were the original terrorists and they haven’t changed. Death sentences were often given to the rich and all their wealth confiscated by the church. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger ran the Inquisition (name changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

What history next tells us is that the model for Nazi hierarchy and political structure was actually the catholic church:

Adolph Hitler said, “There has never been anything more grandiose on the earth than the hierarchical organization of the Catholic Church. I transferred much of this organization into my own party.” Hitler learned how to commit genocide from the catholic church. In 1933 Hitler declared:

“I have been attacked because of my handling of the Jewish question. The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc., because it recognized the Jews for what they were….I do not set race over religion, but I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church, and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.” “Pushing them out” became wholesale killing.

Hitler got more ideas to justify killing Jews from Martin Luther, a catholic German priest who condemned Jews in his book, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543). Luther believed in the murder of Jews who refused to convert to Christianity, writing that "we are at fault in not slaying them."

In 1933, the holy see and Hitler signed a concordat (agreement) giving the church rights in return for safety. Church members and bishops joined the Nazi Party. German bishops would not speak out against Nazis even when they destroyed synagogues and imprisoned and murdered Jews in 1938. Hitler supported church schools and made catholic religious education available in public schools. So abusive and rapist nuns and clergy got free access to the German children in the schools. Hitler’s support of the schools made him look good while he was busy planning and carrying out his recipe for serial genocide.

Because the church and Hitler were so cozy, everyone trusted Hitler, allowing him to get more powerful and kill 11 million people including Jews and non-Jews in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Holland, France and Germany. Also included were gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, priests, pastors, and the disabled.

The Nazi past finally caught up with them:

In 1945, Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States led the Nuremberg Nazi trials in Germany. He said, “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”

We can substitute “the roman catholic church, or the Vatican, or the pope” for the Nazis in Jackson’s statements because the planned, tolerated and systematic rape, abuse and murder of children is genocide on the scale of Nazi holocausts. There are still Nazis today and they are roman catholic priests.

Nicole Winfield (Huffington Post 9/16/11) reported on the vatican’s relationship with a group of catholics, including a bishop who denies that the Holocaust ever happened. The group, the Swiss-based society of st. pius X (SSPX) was formed in 1969, when it wanted to continue to believe and preach that Christ's death was the fault of all Jews.

Winfield reports that German-born pope benedict had tried for two decades to bring the pro-Nazi group back under the vatican umbrella. There was outrage in 2009 when Benedict lifted the excommunication of Richard Williamson, the SSPX bishop who denied that Nazi gas chambers were used for mass killing. Williamson has called Jewish people “enemies of the Church.” SSPX has six seminaries, three universities and 70 schools worldwide. It has three other bishops, more than 550 priests and 200 priests in training and more than a half million members.

Pope benedict also expanded the use of the tridentine mass – favored by Williamson. This mass includes a prayer that asks God to lift the veil so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness. The real darkness is in the black heart of this neo-Nazi society and popes who support it. SSPX allows convicted Nazi war criminals to be buried in their church cemeteries. In the 1990s the group had harbored Nazi collaborator and war criminal Paul Touvier. Pope Francis is giving indications that he might welcome SSPX back by supporting a Pontifical Commission called Ecclesia Dei, which has tried to lead the SSPX flock back into the fold. As recently as January, Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, one of Rome’s top dogs, wrote a letter to SSPX priests, pleading for “reconciliation and healing.”

Can an organization with a history of planned torture and murder of innocent people, close ties to Nazis and centuries of child rape and murder be trusted today with the lives of our children? I don’t think so. I pray that the United Nations Committee Against Torture doesn’t think so either when they return their recommendations later this week.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

UN Committee Against Torture questions Vatican officials: tweet #VaticanAccountability – You too Pope Francis!

Vatican officials (representing Pope Francis) are being investigated again by the United Nations Committee Against Torture this Monday and Tuesday May 5 and 6. Live on the internet will be leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) from different countries and their attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

The hearings will be streamed live here: URL: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/ From 10 am-12 pm CET (4 am-6 am EST) on Monday, May 5th, the Committee will question the Vatican on its compliance with the Convention. From 3 pm-6 pm CET (9 am-12 pm EST) on Tuesday, May 6th, the Vatican will respond to the Committee’s questions. Both broadcasts will be in English. Afterwards SNAP will report:

Tune in to our report-back on Tuesday, May 6, at 8:30 pm CET (2:30 pm EST): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au3ZwOOwGvs on YouTube. You can follow the global conversation about this historic hearing on Twitter using the hashtag #VaticanAccountability and ask questions before or during the report-back by tweeting to the hashtag or emailing your questions to askCCR@ccrjustice.org. SNAP will answer as many as possible during the livestream. Pope Francis likes to tweet – will he tell the truth about church torture and cover up?

Barbara Blaine, President and Founder of SNAP has a message to survivors of rape and abuse by the representatives of the Catholic Church:
“Please know that we are carrying your courage, compassion and support! Lots of the information we have conveyed came from your stories and efforts to expose the truth. We only hope we are doing you proud! If you want to convey any information, concerns or questions please let us know asap! Gratefully, Barbara Blaine”

This is the second time this year the Vatican has been called by an international body to account for its handling of the crisis of sexual violence throughout the Catholic Church. I hope such global attention will continue until the Catholic Church stops doing what they did to me and countless others while hiding behind God.

SNAP knows and I know firsthand that worldwide the children and vulnerable adults have been and continue to be subjected to widespread and systemic rape and sexual violence by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Because of all the media attention now they do it anywhere children are isolated: Third World countries, on Native American reservations, in homes and convents where children are hidden away from society. The Vatican’s policies and practices enable this violence.

The Committee Against Torture has been clear that rape and sexual violence constitute forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In April, SNAP and CCR submitted reports to the Committee, detailing how the Vatican has violated the core principles of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, which it ratified in 2002.”

In the 5/2/14 article on the Huffington Post website (Vatican Urges U.N. Not To Equate Sex Abuse With Torture As Hearings Get Underway), the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi stressed the Holy See’s “strong commitment against any form of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.” Lombardi urged the U.N. Committee Against Torture to resist pressure from nongovernmental organizations “with a strong ideological character” that are intent on including the sexual abuse of minors in a discussion about torture. Of course he is referring to survivor advocacy organizations that include SNAP and BishopAccountability.

The Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N. in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, made the same lame comment heard so often: that the incidence of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy was “the lowest” among all the professions, including teachers and judges. Pointing the finger is not a solution to rapist priests. He said suggestions that the church was some kind of “incubator” for abusive clergy were “dishonest and illogical.” Thou doth protest too much – because that is just what it is a hatching ground for vultures that prey on children.

Pope Francis and his cohorts did not appreciate the scathing report by the U.N. (last February) ordering the Holy See to open its files on clergy who had “concealed their crimes” and called on the church to remove suspected or known abusers. Pope Francis defended the church saying it had acted with “transparency and responsibility” on the issue. Every day we read accounts of another rapist priest, another cover-up by the bishop of a diocese, another survivor’s life ruined by mental and physical torture – how can he lie and deny?

SNAP, which represents 18,000 victims, said Friday that hundreds of children and adults were still being “sexually violated, tortured and assaulted” by Catholic priests. “Torture and violence can be subtle and manipulative. Or it can be blatant and brutal,” said SNAP President Barbara Blaine. “Either way, it’s horribly destructive to the human spirit, especially when inflicted on the young by the powerful, on the truly devout by the allegedly holy.” “Nothing has succeeded in getting Vatican officials to stop this violence,” she added. All of us, survivors, advocates and loved ones will never give up until they are stopped.

When the agents of the Catholic Church rape and torture children, they enter the Gate of Hell. As Dante wrote in one of the greatest literary works of humankind, it says on the Gate of Hell:

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'entrate -- Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
In Italian, it means more than just losing hope – but Pope Francis can read Italian so he knows what it means – they are losing their souls.