Crimes and criminals of the Catholic Church

Crimes and criminals of the Catholic Church

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Things are getting better. It’s almost safe to build a children’s playground within 500 yards of a Catholic Church.

"CatholicChurchAbuseScandalGraffitiPortugal2011" by Milliped - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

WASHINGTON, January 16, 2015 – With the events of the past weeks, the media herd is only talking about the evils of Islam. I would like to take a minute to discuss a very different religious institution that truly deserves to be declared a RICO criminal organization, have it’s assets seized, it’s property sold at auction, and any official status revoked—especially any opportunity to be involved in the care or instruction of children.

Worked it out yet?

OK, here’s a joke that might help clarify things.

“Things are getting better. It’s almost safe to build a children’s playground within 500 yards of a Catholic Church. Not yet, but they’re getting there.”

I’m not talking about the religion. I think Catholics should be free to worship as the spirit leads them without any fear of harm or state-mandated persecution. I just think they have to give up the unimaginable wealth and centuries of accrued political power that has apparently been used to cover up the sexual, physical, and mental abuse of children around the world.

Their churches should be seized and sold at auction, their schools should be closed (at least until they can be certified as safe,) and, assuming that there is anything left in the Vatican’s bank accounts after every be-ringed hand in Italy has taken a portion, the money should be used to treat the victims of the predators in their ranks.

You don’t even have to try to find examples of the Church’s corruption, they just leap out at you: Italian prosecutors have frozen 23 million euros in the accounts of two former Vatican bank managers. Those “chosen of God” that run the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis just released over 500 pages on a priest accused of abusing a young girl after swearing five years ago that they didn’t know anything about it.

In Saint Louis, church lawyers just lost in their attempt to absolve themselves of the alleged sins of Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang under the flimsy pretext that the alleged abuse did not occur on church property.

Those guys are small time compared to Windy City.

Chicago’s Archdiocese just released the files on 36 priests who allegedly molested children with the knowledge of their superiors (you don’t gather 15,000 pages of documents on something you don’t know is happening). By the way, these 36 are in addition to 25 others previously accused–allegedly meaning that 63 predatory priests were allowed to brutalize some 352 victims over the past 75 years.

Here’s one where I can finally stop using the “allegedly” dodge.

In Poland, a priest was sentenced to seven years in jail for the possession of kiddie porn and, of course, the abuse of children. The church joined with the secular authorities on this one with a stiff ruling that “Pawel K.” would no longer be allowed to wear his vestments.

Around the globe, the godly are complaining that all these lawsuits are draining their ability to spread the gospel. If it means that children as young as five won’t be rounded up, locked in filthy cages, and starved as they were in the Philippines to prepare for the Pope’s visit (oh, I’m sorry, “allegedly”,) then I’m all for it.

Oh, wait a second. I’m sorry, the caging of homeless children wasn’t actually being done by the Church. It was done by secular officials who clearly wanted to please the Church.

On the other hand, it’s happening right now. Hopefully, Pope Francis will do something about it—I have great faith in a guy who irritates so many in the Church’s religious hierarchy.

I know that there may be no more pedophiles, control freaks, and rapists in the Catholic Church than in the general population, but those in the general population don’t have powerful officials who are hired and paid by an enormous organization to cover up their crimes.

They also don’t have Cardinals like Raymond Burke who blames “radical feminism” for the priests’ urge to rape children (Burke was the head of the Vatican’s highest court until the current Pope fired him last year.)

Seriously, you can’t make this up and no one has to. These examples took me about 20 minutes to find off the very top of Google News.

The incident that originally set me off on this offensive against the Catholic Church was the trial and conviction of Monsignor William Lynn in Philadelphia in 2011. In fairness, I should point out that Mr. Lynn is not a pedophile as far as I know.

No, he’s something so much lower that I doubt there is a circle of Hell where the denizens will ever agree to take him in. Lynn was paid by the Archdiocese specifically to cover up incidents of abuse and move priests to new churches without warning anyone of their past history. Yes, he did arrange therapy for some of the offenders but essentially, his job was to put the welfare of the Church ahead of that of the weakest and most vulnerable of its parishioners.

A job that was conceived, supported, and paid for by the highest levels of the Archdiocese. (Father Lynn is currently out of prison on a technical appeal—why doesn’t that make me feel more confident of the safety of the children of Philadelphia?)

Spending millions of dollars to cover up crimes that should have never occurred if there had been a system of proper supervision—I couldn’t think of a better description of a criminal organization. Among just about everyone I know, this is an extremely unpopular opinion. Honestly, I think they’ve confused real priests with those played by Bing Crosby.

No, I do not think that every priest is a pedophile, I’m sure that many, probably most, are perfectly nice people. I think they should be holding Mass, baptizing babies, and spreading the works and words of Jesus of Nazareth. I think that the Irish congregation that stood up and applauded when their priest came out as a gay man should be praised as the exact opposite of the Islamic zealots who ruthlessly shot 17 people for the crime of thinking differently.

I’m just asking for a bit of clear thinking about the Roman Catholic Church, two decades of escalating evidence of systemic crime, and whether the institution—not the religion–should be sheltered from the consequences of willful blindness.

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Terry Irving
Terry Irving is an American four-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer. He has won three Peabody Awards, three DuPont Awards and has been a producer, editor or writer with ABC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC. He was in Washington DC in 1973 for a few weeks until deciding on career where he ended up riding a classic BMW R50/2 for ABC News during Watergate. Carrying that news film was the beginning of a 40-year long career that has included producing Emmy Award-winning television news, writing everything from magazine articles to standup comedy and developing many of the earliest forms of online media. Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryIrving; On Facebook or at his website