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"Double Standard" Update

Vatican Insists on Full Rights for Pedophiles

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In an earlier column I pointed out that in the year 2001 the ever-vigilant Congregation for the Clergy published exactly one announcement regarding the discipline of a priest - the announcement of September 12, 2001 concerning the absurd "suspension" of Father Nicholas Gruner. The announcement of the "suspension" gives no grounds for the great emergency in notifying the whole Catholic world about Father Gruner, even as the world was reeling from the events of 9/11.

What dastardly deed did Father Gruner commit to warrant such extraordinary special attention in the midst of a world crisis? Oh yes, I forgot: He "failed" to "return" to the Diocese of Avellino after the Vatican apparatus had systematically prevented him from accepting the invitations of several benevolent bishops to be incardinated in their dioceses. But why should the ever-vigilant Congregation for the Clergy be so concerned about which diocese receives Father Gruner when, throughout the world, the Church’s credibility is being destroyed by sexual predators and heretics who call themselves priests?

Of course we know the answer: sexual scandal and heresy are of far less concern to the ever-vigilant Congregation for the Clergy than defending Cardinal Sodano’s Party Line on Fatima. Fatima belongs to the past, belongs to the past, belongs to the past - repeat after me - belongs to the past. This is one "dogma" the Vatican is willing to defend with unprecedented public announcements condemning a faithful priest who has done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, as diocese after diocese, fearing legal liability, is finally turning over lists of suspected child molester priests to the police - and who knows what lies beneath the tip of this belatedly revealed iceberg of immorality? - we find this interesting little tidbit in a New York Times article (March 3, 2002). Quoting a Roman canon lawyer, the article notes that "The Holy See has thwarted American bishops who want to make it easier under canon law to dismiss predatory priests. ‘American bishops want to be able to decide this on their own, administratively, rather than going through the judicial process’… The judicial process can take years, whereas the administrative decision can be immediate."

Mark this well: the Vatican apparatus will not allow bishops to remove priestly sexual predators administratively. No, they must have a full trial - now under the Vatican’s new secret procedures and rules - during which their "rights" will be respected.

Now, how do you suppose Father Gruner was "suspended"? You guessed it: administratively. No judicial process, no right to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses, nothing. Just an order to "return" to Avellino after an approved absence of 20 years - an order dictated to the Bishop of Avellino by the executors of the Sodano Party Line.

This is the state of the Catholic Church today: priests who sexually abuse children cannot be removed from office administratively to protect the flock, but a priest who offends Cardinal Sodano is administratively suspended - for nothing - and an announcement is made to the world the day after 9/11, lest anyone dare to think that the events of 9/11 might mean that Sodano is wrong about Fatima.

If the Church were not a divinely founded institution, the men who control the Vatican apparatus today would have killed it by now. The Church will, of course, survive their malfeasance. But how much more suffering will the Church have to endure at their hands? Only God knows.