If youda ast me, I coulda toldjah

The chief exorcist at the Vatican says that some bishops are “linked to the Demon.”
The Pope. of course, is the Bishop of Rome.

The chief exorcist at the Vatican (yes, there is such an official) says that “the devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that some bishops are “linked to the Demon.”

The Pope, of course, is the Bishop of Rome. As the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition), then-Cardinal Ratzinger put into place procedures to ensure that cases of child sexual abuse by priests remained secret, and in particular to prevent victims from going to the police. Sounds pretty Satanic to me, even if you don’t count his politics.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

19 thoughts on “If youda ast me, I coulda toldjah”

  1. Ratzi's own brother ran two German Catholic boarding schools for about thirty years, ignored consistent physical abuse, and didn't investigate or punish at least one priest committing sexual abuse.

  2. Ratzi's own brother didn't only ignore physical abuse of the kids in the boarding schools he ran, he admitted to himself having committed acts of physical abuse.

  3. If this is true, I'm glad it is coming out. I've been wondering what might be going on in countries without a free press.

  4. The Catholic church bases the structure of papal authority, with its subsequent lower levels of authority (and corruption), on the verse in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says to Peter "on this rock I will build my church". As Mark Driscoll says in a lecture on the presence of humor in the Bible, "Catholics apparently didn't get the joke when Jesus told Peter he was the rock that Jesus was building his church upon". Just five short verses later Jesus turns around and says to Peter "get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me". So yes, the devil was at work inside the Vatican from the get-go 2,000 years ago.

  5. Bux, in case you missed it, 'the demon' in this case is a metaphor for sex abuse–not a concession to Mark Driscoll's in-your-face evangelical Protestant stand-up theology.

  6. The article you link to (and the BBC documentary it refers to) asserts that:

    "Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis – Latin for The Crime of Solicitation – which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal."

    Which is a complete load of horse shit.

    The document in question is concerned with how to deal with cases where a clergyman solicits sex during or in immediate follow-up to the Sacrament of Confession. Not other types of improper sexual conduct – just cases involving Confession.

    Catholics take the "seal of Confession" very, very seriously in much the same way that Quakers and some Mennonites take their conscientious objection to participating in war very seriously or the way that lawyers take attorney-client privledge very seriously. One of the most serious offenses that a priest can commit is to break the seal of Confession by revealing in any way the details of a penitent's admission of sin. In Catholic Canon Law tremendous care is taken to protect the confidentiality of people seeking the sacrament of Confession. Priests are trained to go to jail rather than to reveal to civil authorities what they hear in the Confessional, a stance which is defended by honest civil libertarians everywhere.

    Crimen Sollicitationis seeks to extend that protection by safeguarding the details of cases where priests abuse the sacrament to solicit sex. Let's give a practical example:

    Person #1 confesses: "I have uncharitable thoughts about my mother-in-law and I cheated on my taxes a little bit."

    Person #2 confesses: "I sometimes fantasize about gay sex"

    Which of the two is most likely to be immediately propositioned for sex by a corrupt priest? A gold star to you if you're not a complete moron and thus picked person #2. So now given that, if I go to my Bishop and say that my priest propositioned me for sex during Confession, its pretty damn obvious what it is that I just confessed. And if the bishop then convenes a Canon Law tribunal to investigate my claim and to punish the priest, its pretty obvious to everyone thus involved what I have confessed. Its not hard to see where victims might find it more difficult to come forward under these circumstances – especially if the victim is underage. Crimen Sollicitationis simply extends the protections of the seal of Confession to everyone who is involved in the church investigation & tribunal. Because the sacrament itself is violated it is neccessary to go to extraordinary lengths to protect the victim.

    Crimen Sollicitationis in no way whatsoever (let's repeat – in no way whatsoever) bars the victim or any other witnesses from going to civil authorities to report any crime. Crimen Sollicitationis does bar church officials who are privy to the details of these cases from going to the civil authorities, but that is not to protect the Church, its to protect the confidentiality of the victim.

    There is one important nuance to the paragraph above. Crimen Sollicitationis does bar the victim from revealing to civil authorities anything that they learn during the Church's investigation that they would not otherwise know. Say Person A is improperly solicited and brings the matter to the attention of Church officials. During the investigation and Canon Law trial Person A learns that Person B has also accused the priest in the case of improper conduct. Person A is totally free to go to the police with their own accusations. But they are forbidden from telling the police about Person B's accusation. This is, again, to protect Person B's confidentiality. If Person B wants to accuse the priest under civil law, he or she is free to do so.

    P.S. The article gets the Pope's name wrong. But I suppose that's the most benign falsehood in the piece.

  7. Paul – how in the world is this victim-blaming? The policy in question simply recognizes an empirical fact – when a person is improperly propositioned for sex during or immediately after Confession there is a very good chance that their Confession involved sexual matters. That's the emotional "opening" the the corrupt priest exploits to try to solicit sexual favors. The policy extends extraordinary protection to the privacy of the victim so that they are not too embarrassed to move forward with allegations. The victim is still free to go public with his or her accusation. But the Church treats the entire investigation and trial as an extension of the sacrament of Confession itself in terms of confidentiality.

  8. Well, all that confidentiality certainly is convenient from the cover-up point of view.

    But more importantly, all this shame associated with a confession of homosexual thoughts is an imposed kind of shame. It wouldn't be a cause for shame if the Catholic Church didn't define homosexuality as a sin.

    It's precisely this marginalization and condemnation of an entirely normal set of human behavior that enables the Church's molesters to conduct their harassment in secret.

  9. the Catholic Church didn't define homosexuality as a sin Betsy, the Bible (and other holy books) defines homosexuality as a sin. And "marginalization and condemnation of an entirely normal set of human behavior…"?? So you're saying that homosexuality is normal. Who or what makes it "normal"? It is actually completely unnatural. Biology doesn't agree with your sense of normalcy. Sorry Betsy.

  10. … if I go to my Bishop and say that my priest propositioned me for sex during Confession, its pretty damn obvious what it is that I just confessed.

    This is bizarre. In some cases, an abusive priest may, as you put it, see an opening if a (male) penitent's confession involves homosexuality, but other abusive priests may be attracted to heterosexual men, or straight women, or lesbians, or adults whose orientation he just doesn't know, or anything that moves, or children whose sexual orientation isn't yet expressed. We just can't know w/ any certainty.

    Taken together w/ the Church's view of homosexuality, the idea that it's "pretty damn obvious" that any (male) penitent, of any age, who's been sexually solicited in confession must have confessed to something involving homosexuality entails the further invidious inference that the victim is gravely disordered, or given to grave depravity, or whatnot. As Paul says, this blames the victim. (But at least female victims are absolved of lesbianism.)

    Given such an atmosphere, it's easy to see why victims might prefer to keep quiet about the whole thing. But to add further insult to injury, am I also to understand that if they do keep quiet for as long as a month, they're subject to excommunication latae sententiae? Charming.

  11. K:

    Its not at all bizarre. I over-spoke for effect. Yes, obviously we can't say with certainty that any person propositioned for sex during Confession has just Confessed some sort of sexual coduct for which they might be ashamed to one degree or another.

    But use your common sense. A person who feels remorse for some sort of sexual conduct and goes to Confession on the matter is likely in a fragile emotional state, is likely ashamed to one degree or another about their conduct and is likely vulnerable to being taken advantage of. This creates a perfect opening for a sexual predator. A person who Confesses that they told their wife that they were working late when in fact they were out having beers with their friends isn't. I simply can't believe that someone would argue in good faith that the former isn't more likely to be the target of sexual abuse. Thus the fact that someone has been abused strongly suggests information about the nature of their Confession, information which the Church treats with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the penitent.

    Also, you are correct that the document in question imposed a penalty of excommunication on anyone who knew of an incident of improper solicitation (victim or witness) who did not report it to Church authorities. This policy is harsh, and I can see where one would find it cruel. But its intended to prevent abuse by identifying abusers (who, let's face it, don't tend to do this sort of thing once and then never again). Civil authorities will also pressure reluctant victims to move forward with formal accusation, because they also know that abusers tend to be repeat abusers.

  12. "… the Bible (and other holy books) defines homosexuality as a sin." – Bux

    Hey Bux, know what? Let's continue that discussion when we come back from the slave market and the weekly stoning of the adulterers. Cause that's what your holy books also say.

    And then let me be so frank to take issue with your very catholic view on human sexuality. If I understand you right, homosexuality is 'unnatural' because it doesn't serve reproduction. You know there's an awful lot of heterosexual sexual activity going on that's not intended to serve reproduction. Isn't that also 'unnatural' and a sin then? How about if you and me join the guardian brigade of public morals and go especially after these perverts practicing sin with their post-menstrual wives? What you're one of them?! You will rot in hell then, don't you know that!

  13. sd,

    Your inference compounds error on error. A peninent’s degree of emotional fragility is only one of the factors that determine her likelihood of being solicited. (A predator will have preferences, & may be more likely to solicit a less vulnerable but more desirable penitent. Heterosexual priests exist, & may be more likely to solicit a less-fragile young female of whatever orientation than a very fragile old homosexual man.) Confessions involving homosexuality are far from the only kind that may leave the penitent vulnerable, emotionally or otherwise. Even if, arguendo, the probability that a penitent will be solicited, given that her confession involved homosexuality, is less than the probability of solicitation, given some less fraught confession, it doesn’t follow that the probability that a penitent’s confession involved homosexuality, given that she was solicited, is greater than the probability that her confession involved some triviality, given that she was solicited. (Most confessions don't involve homosexuality.) Even if, arguendo, the likelihood of being solicited following a confession involving homosexuality is less than the probability of being solicited following some specific less-fraught confession – your case of lying about an after-work beer -, it doesn’t follow that the probability of being solicited following a confession involving homosexuality isn’t vanishingly small. The relevant comparison isn’t w/ some specific less-fraught case, but w/ the whole universe of confessions not involving homosexuality. Again, that universe includes many instances that will have left the penitent much more vulnerable than a confession involving homosexualty.

    I’m afraid you’re suffering from some sort of cognitive bias where this subject is concerned.

  14. I meant to say:

    Even if, arguendo, the likelihood of being solicited following a confession involving homosexuality is higher than the probability of being solicited following some specific less-fraught confession …

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