Michael Hamar

False Piety: Vatican, Canadian Church Tried to Keep Sex Scandal Secret

Filed By Michael Hamar | April 10, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Benedict XVI, Canada, John Paul II, morality, Ontario, Ottawa, Roman Catholic Church, sexual abuse by priests, Vatican

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a Catholic for nearly 50 years and left the Church in 2001/2002 both because of the Church's hostility to gays and because I was sickened by the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy from the Popes on down as the sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston in early 2002. prince_celine_we_577722gm-a.jpgThat said, as a new phase of sex abuse scandal has swept across Europe, I am even more aghast at the depts of the depravity of the predator priests - and the Papacy.

As the parent of three children, I cannot grasp as hard as I might try to comprehend how anyone, much less supposed "men of God" could coldly and cynically ignore the lives and souls of literally thousands and thousands of children and youths. Moreover, it is difficult to fathom how an institution that has so much wrong doing and filth on its hands can have the nerve to now actively campaign against gay equality under the civil laws.

A new story in The Globe and Mail makes it clear that high Church officials knew exactly what was going on and simply did not care - at least not about the victims. It was not a case of "mishandling matters" or exercising "poor judgment." The cover ups were deliberate and planned often from the very top of the Church hierarchy - sometimes over the protests of a few bishops who seemed to understand the gravity of what was happening.

As The Globe and Mail reports, the case in question is that of then-monsignor Bernard Prince, a friend of the late Pope John Paul II, who molested at least 13 altar boys in small towns in the Ottawa Valley in Canada. Despite the Vatican's knowledge of Prince's misdeeds, Prince was appointed Secretary-General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith at the Vatican.

Equally damning is a four (4) page February 10, 1993, letter from Former bishop Joseph Windle of Pembroke, Ontario, to the Pope's envoy to Canada, Carlo Curis. The letter makes it clear that numerous bishops, one or more archbishops and at least one cardinal knew of the molestation and that their only concern was protecting the Church.

Here are highlights from The Globe and Mail story (take the time to read the letter as well):

More than a decade before police got wind that a priest had molested several altar boys in small towns in the Ottawa Valley, Vatican and Canadian church officials knew about the matter and discussed in a letter how to keep it secret.

The letter, written in 1993, focused on protecting the church's image by preventing the scandal from becoming public - the very essence of an international wave of allegations now battering the Roman Catholic clergy and the Vatican. "It is a situation which we wish to avoid at all costs," the late Bishop Joseph Windle of Pembroke, Ont., wrote in Feb. 10, 1993, to the Pope's envoy to Canada, Carlo Curis.

At least one Vatican archbishop, Jose Sanchez, now a cardinal, had been warned about Mr. Prince's problem before he was sent to Rome, Bishop Windle said in the letter. Bishop Windle wrote that he told Cardinal Sanchez that he agreed with posting Mr. Prince to the Vatican. "While the charge against Fr. Prince was very serious, I would not object to him being given another chance since it would remove him from the Canadian scene." In his letter to the papal nuncio, Bishop Windle cautioned the Vatican to avoid honouring Mr. Prince because it could anger victims and prompt them to contact police.

The four-page letter - an exhibit filed this week in a civil suit - is the first court document to buttress the long-held belief by victims of Mr. Prince that the clergy had known of the problem for years but tried to hush it up.

In additional to Cardinal Ambrozic, the letter says that the Canadian church officials aware of the allegations included Anthony Tonnos, the bishop of Hamilton; Francis Spence, who was archbishop of Kingston; the late Joseph Wilhelm, the previous archbishop of Kingston; John O'Mara, who was bishop of Thunder Bay; and Marcel Gervais, then the archbishop of Ottawa.

The letter said it is "fortunate" that many of the victims were of Polish ancestry, devout Catholics who would be less likely to complain to secular authorities. Charles Gibson, the lawyer for the Pembroke diocese, did not reply to a phone call and an e-mail about the civil suits.

Personally, I do not understand how anyone can remain a Catholic until such time as there is a complete house cleaning of the hierarchy - starting with the resignation of Benedict XVI and a cessation of sainthood efforts for John Paul II. I "voted with my feet" and would encourage other Catholics to move to the Evangelical Lutheran Church or Episcopal Church. Are they perfect? No. But they do not have the sick and morally bankrupt centralized leadership that is now the norm it seems in the Roman Catholic Church.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 11, 2010 12:50 AM

Michael, well and passionately said. The difference in hierarchy between the Anglican communion, ELC and the RC church is one of degree however. If choices are among "degrees" of corruption why choose any corruption at all?

Have a read of Voltaire's "Candide" sometime if you have not. Concentrate on the city of El Dorado where all men were their own priests and spent their full time thanking God (or not) without any organized religion whatsoever.

Or, just wiki "Candide"

Mike Fisher | April 11, 2010 10:13 AM

It is time that criminal charges are filed against these disgusting people.