POPE BENEDICT 16 DEFROCKED 400 PRIESTS OVER CHILD ABUSE

VATICAN CITY — In his last two years as pope, Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for raping and molesting children, more than twice as many as the two years that preceded a 2010 explosion of sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond, according to a document obtained Friday by The Associated Press and an analysis of Vatican statistics. The data — 260 priests defrocked in 2011 and 124 in 2012, a total of 384 — represented a dramatic increase over the 171 priests defrocked in 2008 and 2009. It was the first compilation of the number of priests forcibly removed for sex abuse by the Vatican’s in-house procedures — and a canon lawyer said the real figure is likely far higher, since the numbers don’t include sentences meted out by diocesan courts. An internal Vatican document prepared to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva compiled the statistics over the course of several years. Analysis of the raw data cited in that document, which was obtained by the AP, confirmed the figures.

ALSO: Pope Francis widens criminal punishment for child abuse in Vatican

Pope Francis on Thursday bolstered criminal legislation against child abuse in the Vatican in an overhaul of laws that apply to the clergy and lay people who work in the tiny city state. The Vatican said in a statement that the pope’s decree included “a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors” including child prostitution, sexual acts with children and child pornography. He also increased cooperation with other states against money laundering and terrorism in a continuation of reforms started by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to get the Vatican in line with international legislation.

ALSO: Cebu Priest suspended by Vatican on 20-year-old child abuse raps

Msgr. Cristobal Garcia has been suspended and stripped of his positions in the archdiocese
of Cebu on orders of the Vatican while the Holy See investigates accusations he molested altar boys more than 20 years ago in the United States. Msgr. Achilles Dakay, the archdiocese’s media liaison officer, said Garcia’s suspension came months before the priest was implicated by a National Geographic article in illegal trade of ivory in the Philippines. Dakay said Garcia was suspended by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in June on instructions of the Vatican because of the ongoing investigation of the child abuse case filed against him. As part of the penalties, Garcia is not allowed to say Mass in public and hear confessions and has been stripped of his positions in the archdiocese, including his chairmanship of the committee on worship....READ MORE BELOW...

ALSO: Pope sends clear signals for reforms

Pope Francis has looked beyond the usual Vatican circles for new cardinals and overhauled the governance of the Vatican bank at the start of a year that heralds key reforms for the Roman Catholic Church. Even some measures that appear limited in scope, like the curtailment of the honorific “monsignor” title and a cut in costs for sainthood applications, are being seen as signals of a will to overhaul the Vatican. The new cardinals, who will be formally appointed next month, include several from relatively minor dioceses in developing countries and with a reputation as pastoral figures—far from Vatican power games. “Without starting any revolutions, this choice clearly shows an interesting reasoning,” said Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert who knows the Pope personally and interviewed him for the La Stampa daily last year. “In all his public comments, in all his reign so far this Pope has shown he wants a Church in which the clergy is not seen as a cast apart,” Tornielli said.

ALSO: Pontiff names Philippine Bishop Quevedo cardinal

Pope Francis on Sunday named Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo and 18 other prelates from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, cardinals to reflect his attention to the poor. Francis announced his first batch of cardinals as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square. Quevedo, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate order, is 74. He was ordained in 1964, moved up the ranks in the Philippine Church hierarchy and became archbishop of Cotabato in 1998. Quevedo, who served as president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 1999 to 2003, becomes the country’s second active cardinal, following the elevation of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle to the College of Cardinals in 2012.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked 400 priests over child abuse


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In this Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, file photo, Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter’s Square to bless the nativity scene at the Vatican. A document obtained by The Associated Press shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children. AP

VATICAN CITY, JANUARY 20, 2014 (INQUIRER)  Associated Press - In his last two years as pope, Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for raping and molesting children, more than twice as many as the two years that preceded a 2010 explosion of sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond, according to a document obtained Friday by The Associated Press and an analysis of Vatican statistics.

The data — 260 priests defrocked in 2011 and 124 in 2012, a total of 384 — represented a dramatic increase over the 171 priests defrocked in 2008 and 2009.

It was the first compilation of the number of priests forcibly removed for sex abuse by the Vatican’s in-house procedures — and a canon lawyer said the real figure is likely far higher, since the numbers don’t include sentences meted out by diocesan courts.

The spike started a year after the Vatican decided to double the statute of limitations on the crime, enabling victims who were in their late 30s to report abuse committed against them when they were children.

The Vatican has actually made some data public year by year in its annual reports. But an internal Vatican document prepared to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva compiled the statistics over the course of several years. Analysis of the raw data cited in that document, which was obtained by the AP, confirmed the figures.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of often pointed criticism and questioning Thursday from the U.N. human rights committee. He said 418 new child sex abuse cases were reported to the Vatican in 2012.

The Vatican initially said the AP report seemed to be a misinterpretation of the 418 figure. However, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, later issued a correction based on confirmation of the AP calculations by the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, Monsignor Charles Scicluna.

The Vatican’s annual report contains a wealth of information about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.

An AP review of a decade’s worth of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See’s in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.

Before becoming pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren’t following church policy and putting accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Instead, bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials — or turn them over to police.

For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations against the Vatican from victims is that bishops put the church’s procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by suggesting that victims keep accusations quiet while they were dealt with internally.

The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.
The Vatican insists nothing in its church process prevented victims from going to police.

According to the 2001 norms Ratzinger pushed through and subsequently updated, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews each case sent to Rome and then tells bishops how to proceed, either with an administrative process against the priest if the evidence is overwhelming or a church trial. At every step of the way the priest is allowed to defend himself.

A total of 555 priests were defrocked from 2008 to 2012, according to the Vatican figures, though data from 2010 was not included.

The Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross University who has helped prosecute abuse cases for the Vatican, said the real number may be far higher. The reason? The figures in the Vatican’s annual report only refer to the outcome of cases sent to the pope.

Those are the slam-dunk cases where there was so much evidence against the priest that a church trial wasn’t necessary, or cases where the priest himself asked to be relieved of his celibacy vow and position as a prelate because of the accusations.

But individual dioceses can also remove priests from the clerical state as the result of a canonical trial in which the priest is found guilty, Cito said.

“There can also be more without the intervention of the pope,” he said. “They don’t tell us the number, so there’s no way to know.”

Victims groups said the spike in cases appeared to be the result of victims gaining the strength to come forward and denounce abusive priests. They demanded the Vatican start sanctioning bishops who covered up for the abuse, too.

“Here’s the number Catholics should remember: zero. That’s how many Catholic supervisors have been punished, worldwide, for enabling and hiding horrific clergy sex crimes,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the main U.S. victims group. “The pope must start defrocking clerics who cover up sex crimes, not just clerics who commit them.”

The Congregation started reporting numbers only in 2005, which is where the spreadsheet prepared for the Vatican delegation in Geneva starts.

In 2005, the Congregation authorized bishops to launch church trials against 21 accused clerics, and reported that its appeals court had handled two cases. It didn’t say what the verdicts were, according to the annual reports cited by the spreadsheet.

In 2006, the number of canonical trials authorized doubled to 43 and eight appeals cases were heard. And for the first time, the Congregation revealed publicly the number of cases reported to it: 362, though that figure included a handful of non-abuse related canonical crimes.

A similar number of cases were reported in 2007 — 365 — but again the Congregation didn’t specify how many were abuse-related. Vatican officials, however, have said that it received between 300-400 cases a year in the years following the 2002 explosion of sex abuse cases in the U.S.

By 2008, the tone of the Vatican’s entry had changed. Ratzinger, by then Pope Benedict XVI, traveled to the scandal-hit United States that year and was quoted in the annual report as telling reporters en route that he was “mortified” by the scale of abuse and simply couldn’t comprehend “how priests could fail in such a way.”

That year’s entry was also notable for another reason: For the first time, an official Vatican document made clear that nothing in the church process precluded victims from reporting abuse to police.

There was also another first in 2008, a critical year as abuse lawsuits in the U.S. naming the Holy See as a defendant were heating up. For the first time, the Vatican revealed the number of priests who had been defrocked: 68.

A year later, the number of defrocked priests rose to 103. The total for the two years, 2008 and 2009, was 171.

Another milestone in the sex abuse saga came in 2010, with hundreds of cases reported in the media across Europe and beyond. Some 527 cases were reported to the Congregation alone. No figures were given that year for the number of defrocked priests; instead, new church laws were put in place to extend the statute of limitations from 10 years after the victim’s 18th birthday to 20 years.

By 2011, with the new extended statute of limitations and the Vatican norms codified, the number of defrocked priests rose dramatically: 260 in one year alone, while 404 new cases of child abuse were reported. In addition, lesser penalties were imposed on 419 other priests for abuse-related crimes.

In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the number of defrockings dropped to 124, with another 418 new cases reported.

EARLIER REPORTS FROM THE VATICAN

Pope Francis widens criminal punishment for child abuse in Vatican Agence France-Presse 7:11 pm | Thursday, July 11th, 2013


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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday bolstered criminal legislation against child abuse in the Vatican in an overhaul of laws that apply to the clergy and lay people who work in the tiny city state.

The Vatican said in a statement that the pope’s decree included “a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors” including child prostitution, sexual acts with children and child pornography.

He also increased cooperation with other states against money laundering and terrorism in a continuation of reforms started by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to get the Vatican in line with international legislation.

The new norms also increase criminal liability for people working in Vatican departments — a potentially radical change that would complement his plans to root out corruption from the scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy.

The laws will come into force on September 1.

Priest suspended on 20-year-old child abuse raps By Connie E. Fernandez Inquirer Visayas Chief of Bureau 8:15 pm | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


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Msgr-Cristobal-Garcia

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Msgr. Cristobal Garcia has been suspended and stripped of his positions in the archdiocese of Cebu on orders of the Vatican while the Holy See investigates accusations he molested altar boys more than 20 years ago in the United States.

Msgr. Achilles Dakay, the archdiocese’s media liaison officer, said Garcia’s suspension came months before the priest was implicated by a National Geographic article in illegal trade of ivory in the Philippines.

Dakay said Garcia was suspended by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in June on instructions of the Vatican because of the ongoing investigation of the child abuse case filed against him.

As part of the penalties, Garcia is not allowed to say Mass in public and hear confessions and has been stripped of his positions in the archdiocese, including his chairmanship of the committee on worship.

Palma informed Garcia about his suspension, which might have affected his health, said Dakay.

Garcia, a diabetic and hypertensive, has been on sick leave. He was confined at a private hospital in Manila. Before that, he had been staying with a sibling in Manila while he sought medical treatment.

Palma confirmed at a news conference at the Archbishop’s Palace on Wednesday morning that Garcia had been removed from his positions in the Archdiocese.

“You might notice you have not seen Monsignor Cris since June because he’s out of Cebu,” he said. “He is no longer connected with any of the posts he occupied before.”

He stressed that the investigation into Garcia’s child abuse case came long before the monsignor was embroiled in controversy involving ivory trade.

“In regard to the matter of Monsignor Garcia’s past, the case has been elevated to the Holy See and it has initiated the investigation into it long before the present controversy erupted,” Palma in a prepared statement.

“I have also fulfilled the Holy See’s instructions regarding the submission of documents and acting upon related consequences,” he added.

Garcia was a Dominican priest working in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 1980s when he was accused of child abuse. He was later expelled after a nun reported to the police that an altar boy had been found in his bed in a Los Angeles rectory.

An article by the Los Angeles Times reported that Garcia was accused of molesting two youths in 1980 and 1984.

A Dallas Morning News item reported Garcia as saying he did have sex with the two altar boys but claimed that he was the one who was “seduced and raped.” His accusers, however, found his claims absurd.

Dakay told the Inquirer that Garcia was the last priest ordained by Cebu Archbishop Julio Cardinal Rosales before he died in 1980s.

When Garcia was expelled by the Dominican order, he added, Rosales brought him back to Cebu and took him as a diocesan priest.

But Dakay said Garcia could no longer go back to the US following a conviction in the civil aspect of the case. He could not say, however, if Garcia was ordered to pay damages.

It was during the time of Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Rosales’ successor, that Garcia was conferred the title of monsignor.

Garcia subsequently became a high-profile priest in Cebu and has been known for his vast collections of religious icons and paintings. His collections are usually displayed in exhibits every January as part of the festivities leading to the annual fiesta of Cebu’s patron, the Señor Sto. Niño.

He was also given various positions, including the chairmanship of the Commission on Worship. He was also business manager of Bag-ong Lungsoranon, the official publication of the Cebu Archdiocese; and spiritual director of Bukas Loob ng Dios and the World Apostolate of Fatima.

He is also a founder of the Society of the Angels of Peace in Talisay City, Cebu, and rector of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus Nazareno, also in Talisay.

Dakay said he thought that the child abuse case against Garcia had been considered closed until Palma was informed by the Vatican about the ongoing investigation.

“He must have repented and felt sorry for what he did because it was a sin. But the crime remained. Vatican went on investigating it,” said Dakay. “What happened in the States could be a crime. If it was also a sin on his part, it was forgiven. It was repented for.”

Dakay said the criminal case was elevated to the Vatican and is now the subject of an investigation.

Dakay said he didn’t know when the case was revived. “I don’t know why it reached the Vatican as a church case.”

“We have been communicating with the Vatican. We didn’t know that there was an investigation. We didn’t know that it was revived,” he said.

Dakay said Palma was appealing to the Vatican to soften the penalties apparently due to Garcia’s health as well as his contributions to the Cebu Archdiocese.

Garcia left for Manila several weeks ago to seek medical treatment. He had been in and out of hospital because of his hypertension and heart ailment.

Dakay said some Cebu priests saw Garcia in Makati last week with his bodyguard and private nurse, “looking very sick.

“He is now in a hospital,” he added.

He said Garcia, an expert in liturgy, has been printing their prayers. Garcia also founded a congregation and ran a shrine in Cebu.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Pope sends clear signals for reforms January 18, 2014 10:19 pm


Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on January 15, 2014. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has looked beyond the usual Vatican circles for new cardinals and overhauled the governance of the Vatican bank at the start of a year that heralds key reforms for the Roman Catholic Church.

Even some measures that appear limited in scope, like the curtailment of the honorific “monsignor” title and a cut in costs for sainthood applications, are being seen as signals of a will to overhaul the Vatican.

The new cardinals, who will be formally appointed next month, include several from relatively minor dioceses in developing countries and with a reputation as pastoral figures—far from Vatican power games.

The nominations have knocked a few noses out of joint in the Vatican, where becoming a cardinal has previously been seen as an appointment traditionally associated with particular high-placed posts.

“Without starting any revolutions, this choice clearly shows an interesting reasoning,” said Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert who knows the Pope personally and interviewed him for the La Stampa daily last year.

“In all his public comments, in all his reign so far this Pope has shown he wants a Church in which the clergy is not seen as a cast apart,” Tornielli said.

Tornielli said the Pope has shown particular attention to reforming the clergy, frequently upbraiding priests for not being close enough to their communities and condemning the “shame” of child sex crimes by clerics.

In one oft-repeated comment, he said priests should be shepherds “with the smell of their sheep on them”.

He has also criticized “smarmy priests who worship Narcissus” and “butterfly priests who live in vanity”.

Joseph Xavier, an Indian priest from the Pope’s own Jesuit order and a lecturer in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, said Francis has shown he “prefers a Church in motion like the people of God”.

The Argentine Pope has led by personal example in emphasizing that priests should reach out to the needy, washing the feet of prisoners as part of an Easter ritual and baptizing the child of a single mother.

In just a few months, he has also sidelined some of the most powerful conservative figures in the higher echelons of the Church, including Italian cardinal Mauro Piacenza and United States cardinal Raymond Burke.

Observers see this as a form of preparation ahead of important decisions he will have to make later in the year when a council of cardinals he has appointed to advise him issues a list of reform proposals.

At the same time, the 77-year-old pontiff has also shown that while he is willing to break with Vatican tradition he will not alter some of the most controversial tenets of Catholic doctrine.

This month, he issued his strongest condemnation yet of abortion, calling it “frightful” and a symptom of a “throwaway culture” that placed little value on life.

His critics in the Church have spoken of him as a “populist Pope” who has created confusion with his multiple pronouncements on a range of issues and say his words could lead to more lax attitudes.

But Tornielli rallied to the Pope’s side, saying: “People, ordinary faithful understand and find in the Pope a credible witness of faith who lives what he preaches and evangelizes by example”.

YOU TUBE VIDEO

  |
Published on Jan 12, 2014 (BBC Europe) ― Pope Francis is to appoint 19 new cardinals next month, including churchmen from Haiti and Burkina Faso, reflecting his commitment to the poor. Cardinals, who wear red hats and robes, are the most senior clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church below the Pope.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Pontiff names Quevedo cardinal Associated Press 2:39 am | Monday, January 13th, 2014


In this July 13, 2011, file photo, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo reads the Catholic bishops’ pastoral statement during a Philippine Senate hearing in Manila. Quevedo is among the 19 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, during his Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Sunday named Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo and 18 other prelates from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, cardinals to reflect his attention to the poor.

Francis announced his first batch of cardinals as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Quevedo, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate order, is 74. He was ordained in 1964, moved up the ranks in the Philippine Church hierarchy and became archbishop of Cotabato in 1998.

Quevedo, who served as president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 1999 to 2003, becomes the country’s second active cardinal, following the elevation of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle to the College of Cardinals in 2012.

Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are eligible to elect the next Pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Pope’s selection of churchmen from Haiti and Burkino Faso, which are among the world’s poorest nations, reflects Francis’ attention to the destitute as a core part of the Church’s mission.

FROM BBC -EUROPE Jan 12, 2014

The 19 new Cardinals

Archbishop Pietro Parolin (Italy)
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (Italy)
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller (Germany)
Archbishop, Beniamino Stella (Italy)
Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Britain)
Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano (Nicaragua)
Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada)
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa (Ivory Coast)
Archbishop Orani João Tempesta (Brazil)
Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti (Italy) Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli (Argentina)
Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung (South Korea)
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello (Chile)
Archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo (Burkina Faso)
Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo (Philippines)
Archbishop Chibly Langlois (Haiti)
Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla (Italy)
* Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla (Italy)
* Archbishop Fernando Sebastián Aguilar (Spain)
* Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix (St Lucia)

* Cardinal emeritus, without voting rights


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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