Monday, September 13, 2004

I told you a couple of months ago that the Vatican had found a cushy position for Cardinal Bernard Law, who was never really held accountable for sexual abuse by priests that took place on his watch when he was archbishop of Boston.

Now a Dallas Morning News investigation is reporting that priests who themselves are accused of abuse are being sheltered as well. Here's the Dallas News story, via the Billings Gazette:, one block from the Vatican, a fugitive priest lives in a church building with rooftop views of St. Peter's Basilica and the pope's apartment.

The Rev. Joseph Henn's superiors have let him stay with them, even though they say he has refused their instructions to go back to Phoenix and face charges that he molested three boys.

A short cab ride north, the Rev. Barry Bossa, an ex-con and fugitive, has found similar sanctuary in a leafy neighborhood of sidewalk cafes and low-rise apartments. His religious bosses hastily moved him out of the United States two years ago as his criminal record and new allegations began to emerge.

Here in the heart of Catholicism, church leaders are giving refuge to priests who face allegations of sexual abuse in other countries....

Some are stationed in the comfort of their religious orders' world headquarters. One strolls by St. Peter's Square en route to his job. Another leads English-language tours at ancient church burial grounds. And until recently, one man was serving his house arrest across the street from the Vatican....

The News' investigation ... found more than 200 accused priests, brothers and other Catholic workers hiding across international borders and living in unsuspecting communities, often with the church's support. About 30 of the men were wanted by law enforcement in another country....

Remember, this is an institution that allowed some of its most prominent U.S. leaders to hector John Kerry and other Democratic politicians all year for pro-choice and pro-stem-cell-research positions, while giving Republicans such as Giuliani, Pataki, and Schwarzenegger a free ride (and giving George W. Bush no more a verbal love tap for the Iraq war, which the church opposed). Yes, the church is modifying its selective election-year fatwa in the face of criticism:

In essence, a vote for a pro-choice politician is not necessarily sinful if a Catholic, who is also against abortion, believes the candidate's other positions outweigh the politician's support for abortion rights, Ratzinger said. He heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But there's still this:

Ratzinger said Catholic politicians show "formal cooperation with evil" if they consistently campaign and vote for abortion rights, and that Catholic pastors and bishops should counsel and warn such politicians that they could, in time, be refused communion.

"Formal cooperation with evil" -- can you think of a better term to describe what the church itself is doing by harboring pedophile priests?

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