The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2013
According to documents released today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, moved nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund in 2007 specifically to shield it from lawsuits by victims of clergy sexual abuse. The New York Times has the scoop:
[T]he files released Monday contain a letter [Dolan] wrote to the Vatican in 2007, in which he explained that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”
The Vatican moved swiftly to approve the request, the files show, even though it often took years to remove known abusers from the priesthood.
The files also reveal graphic details of the alleged abuse, including new revelations about its magnitude:
Archbishop Listecki released a letter last week warning Catholics in his archdiocese that the documents could shake their faith and trying to explain the actions of church leaders while offering apologies to victims.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he wrote. “There are some graphic descriptions about the behavior of some of these priest offenders.”
This week, the new Pope Francis raised quite a ruckus when he said:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Was he really saying that atheists are not necessarily doomed to eternal hellfire? That would be … quite a change.
Or is this just a misunderstanding of the Roman Catholic terms of service?
On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.’”
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”
Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.
Although the pope’s comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenant of the faith.
“Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ,” the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.
“He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice. In other words, he is not suggesting - and I think some are taking it this way - that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ.”
Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.
See? That’s why you always need to read the fine print.
Would you be surprised to learn that the new Pope has the same old problems that have now become almost daily news about the Catholic Church? While there’s no evidence (yet) that he actively covered up the crimes of pedophile priests, while archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often took no action to protect children or act swiftly against the criminal clergy: Pope Francis Was Often Quiet on Argentine Sex Abuse Cases as Archbishop.
HURLINGHAM, Argentina — Father Julio Cesar Grassi was a celebrity in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. The young, dynamic, media-savvy priest networked with wealthy Argentines to fund an array of schools, orphanages and job training programs for poor and abandoned youths, winning praise from Argentine politicians and his superior, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Grassi called his foundation Felices los Niños, “Happy Children.”
Today, Grassi is a convicted sex offender who remains free on a conditional release after being sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 for molesting a prepubescent boy in his care.
Yet in the years after Grassi’s conviction, Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — has declined to meet with the victim of the priest’s crimes or the victims of other predations by clergy under his leadership. He did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the church and the offending priests were sent to jail.
…During most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced; nor did he extend apologies to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light.
“He has been totally silent,” said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina’s U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. “In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself.”
The Catholic Church has paid out at least $2 billion in the United States alone to settle abuse claims, according to monitoring groups. In many Latin American countries, though, the scope of crimes has only begun to surface, and in Argentina, no victims have received restitution in public settlements, rights groups and lawyers said.
The new Pope is a 76-year old cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and he has chosen the name Francis.
And the official Pontifex Twitter account has been reactivated:
HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM
— Pontifex (@Pontifex) March 13, 2013