Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Holy Balloon Bursts

I wanted to believe.

I hoped that Pope Francis was the real deal, that he was the true enemy of predatory capitalism, the true champion of poor people. But it seems that he's just another protector of predators.

From Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times comes this shocker graphically detailing the unspeakable crimes of one of the pope's own high-ranking personal envoys:
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of 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 called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.
It was only after he was spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the local news media, that they learned his real identity: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
“He definitely seduced me with money,” said Francis Aquino Aneury, who says he was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasingly larger sums for sexual acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money.”
So much for the new pope's new "zero tolerance" child abuse policy. Maybe we misunderstood. Maybe it only applies to run of the mill parish priests and not to important diplomats wearing golden mitres. For, instead of leaving the privileged predator at the scene of his own crimes to be dealt with by the local justice system, the plutocratic pedophile was safely spirited out of one of the poorest places on earth to the safe haven of the Holy See. Wesolowski has actually been spotted wandering around the neighborhood, defrocked of his priestly garb yet still free to prey (and pray.)
The Vatican says that because Mr. Wesolowski was a member of its diplomatic corps and a citizen of the Holy See, the case would be handled in Rome. But even many faithful Catholics in this nation, home to the oldest Catholic cathedral in the Americas, say they are unsettled that a Vatican official could have been using children for sex, yet was not arrested and tried in their own country.
“From the pure standpoint of justice, he should be tried in the country where the acts took place because the conditions for trying him will not be the same elsewhere,” said Antonio Medina CalcaƱo, dean of the faculty of law and political science of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. “But all we can do is hope that the courts in the Vatican will treat this with the severity that it really deserves.”
Goodstein's article goes on to recount, in gruesome detail, just what Wesolowski allegedly did to the impoverished children of the Dominican Republic. In the worst case, the papal nuncio actually seduced one of his young victims with the promise of anti-seizure medication for his untreated epilepsy -- but only if the child did what he was told.

 When a Santo Domingo TV station was tipped off about him, the Vatican bigwig simply enlisted another priest to act as his procurer. That priest has since been thrown in jail, apparently ranking too low to be "spirited" out of the country.

Meanwhile, although there are "indications from Rome" that the pope is concerned about the case, he has apparently not seen fit to strip Wesolowski of his diplomatic immunity and thus allow his extradition back to either the Dominican Republic or to his native Poland, where he is also wanted for questioning.

When the nuncio was recalled last fall, the Vatican at first even denied that the move had anything to do with child abuse allegations. He was officially convicted in June. The Vatican also refused to divulge how he answered the charges against him or if he will suffer any penalty besides being stripped of his finery:

UNICEF reports that half of all Dominican children live in poverty, thus making the island (Hispaniola) shared with Haiti a magnet for predators -- be they child molesters, drug cartels, or multinational corporations. In a place where the economy and business are booming while children are starving and going without food and medicine, your average slimeball can rest assured that it's a go-to paradise for all manner of mayhem. It's a country where income disparity is extreme and where there has been a long sordid history of government corruption. But even a banana republic's criminal justice system seems to take child sex abuse more seriously than the Vatican.

Suffer the little children, indeed.


Denis Neville said...

When I was a young lad in the early 1950’s, not long after my father died, a parish priest took an “interest” in my welfare and singled me out for “counseling” at the rectory. My mother, for reasons I won’t go into, reluctantly consented.

The first session ended quickly. Thankfully, unlike the stories one hears of submission to the priestly figure, my alarm bells (predator alert) went off and I immediately fled. After telling my mother about my experience, she went to the parish monsignor and raised hell about that priest. Nothing was ever done. My mother’s complaint disappeared into the hidden histories of the church.

However, she did remove us forthwith from the Catholic Church

As these scandals have emerged, I am even more proud of my mother for what she did.

Pope Francis promises hope and change. Where have we heard that before?

“The people used to say, ‘I want my child to go to a Catholic church.’ Now they say, ‘No child of mine is ever going to a Catholic church.” - Rev. Rogelio Cruz, Catholic priest, Dominican Republic

Jay - Ottawa said...

In July’s “Harper’s” Mary Gordon takes a hard look at the action and inaction of Francis on pivotal matters. He comes up wanting.

Francis talks nice and has indeed cleared the way to sainthood for a few nice guys, like Oscar Romero. As they say in Latin: Placet.

At the same time, he still hasn’t called off the Curia’s hostile review of the life and works of American nuns. It’s charged the nuns are too obsessed with performing good works (see link) and fail to promote with sufficient zeal the Vatican line on doctrinal issues like contraception.

There are two Catholic churches, always have been. The unbiblical one has throughout its scandalous history been guided by what Hans Kung disparages as “The Roman Way.” The other one, free of pomp and corporate values, carries on like this:

Zee said...

There seems to be a bit of a theme running through Karen's last three essays: the exposure of Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and, now, Pope Francis, as powerful frauds.

Once again, I find myself returning to the 127-year-old wisdom of Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg):

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men...”

There are, I fear, very few “saviors” to be found among those who consciously seek power, authority, or influence over others. No matter how glittering their oratory and visions, they will usually disappoint.

Pearl said...

Pope Francis’ new clothes: Why his progressive image is white smoke and mirrors via @Salon

Denis Neville said...

Like most people I have zero tolerance for institutional malfeasance.

The question that has bothered me for many years is why have the overwhelming majority of Catholic priests remained silent about the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up by the church?

In Kansas City, Catholic bishop Robert W. Finn was convicted of shielding a pedophile priest. Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation.

From Kansas City priests there has been nothing but silence about their bishop being convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse. Why? Is it because they have something hidden in their own closets?

Didn’t they vow to follow Jesus?

Would Jesus, the champion of social justice and rebellious change, sit silently?

The Catholic Church cannot deal with this issue because of centuries of organizational failure.

Sexual abuse of minors is reflected in the early records of the Church. Mention of sexual abuse is found in the canons of the Latin Church for a Synod at Elvira in Spain in year 309, where presbyters and bishops who commit sexual sins and those who abuse boys are mentioned.

I am also disappointed in Pope Francis.

“The cases of abuses are terrible because they leave extremely deep wounds. Benedict XVI was very courageous and he cleared a path. The Church has done so much on this path. Perhaps more than anyone. The statistics on the phenomenon of the violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of abuses take place in the family environment and around it. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No other has done more. And, the Church is the only one to be attacked.” – Pope Francis, interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, March 5, 2014

Pope Francis has yet to remove Finn as bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

“Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.” - Barbara W. Tuchman

annenigma said...

@Jay - Ottawa

Off topic, but Glenn Greenwald is coming to your neck of the woods in October. Tickets are still available (but not free).

Jay - Ottawa said...


Thanks very much for the heads-up. I might have missed an early shot at tickets. (I note the reception following is already sold out––not that I go in for that kind of schmoozfest.)

The last time GG breezed through Ottawa, around three years ago, my wife and I were able to attend his talk at St Paul's University.

The occasion was sponsored by academics and activists. The principal introducer then was Maher Arar. You may recall he was the Canadian who in 2002 was pulled off a plane in NYC (thanks to a bum tip by the RCMP) and rendered to our friend Assad in Syria for a year of enhanced interrogation.

At some point the Syrians realized they had the wrong guy and sent him back to Canada, where he got a big monetary settlement and an apology from PM Harper.

Nevertheless, Arar still can't get his name struck from the US "No Fly List." And his attempt at redress in the States was rebuffed all the way up to the Supremes.

Pearl said...

A cheerful musical interlude.