I was honestly holding this week’s spot for a Christmas-specific horror but since none came up, I decided that this would be a good time for a roundup of recent Catholic sex abuse cases. I know that I talk about it a lot, but there’s just so many of them to spotlight! If the Catholic Church was at all committed to ending sex abuse, instead of just whining that they’re being picked on, I wouldn’t be able to find so many of these cases in such a short amount of time. So let’s get started, shall we?
We can start in Australia, where the Catholics already think there’s an “understanding” that they don’t have to report criminals to the authorities. A former Catholic priest, Russell Vears, has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing two 14-year old boys in 1976. Within a year of being ordained and placed at a parish in Melbourne, he reportedly started having a sexual relation with the boys.
“Their families were active members of the congregation, and they were both altar boys. As a result you had easy access to them, and were trusted by them and their families,” said County Court judge Felicity Hampel. According to the judge, by the third year of Vears’ tenure, the family of one of the boys suspected that something was going on. “They confronted you, and you angrily counter attacked, saying to them, in the boy’s hearing: ‘How dare you accuse me of sleeping with your son.’ Despite the confusion caused by your response, the boy knowing, you, a priest, had lied, and the parents cowed by the apparently outraged response of a priest, the holder of a holy office they had been brought up to respect, believe and obey, the boy soon after confirmed to his mother what she and her husband had suspected was true, that you had been sexually abusing him.”
The boy’s mother reported this to the Archdiocese and it immediately took steps, not to protect the molested boy, but to defend the pedophile priest. In fact, the response at the time was to transfer Vears to another church where the situation continued unabated. It wasn’t until 2011 when a victim went to the police that Vears was arrested. The Melbourne Archdiocese knew all those years that it had a predator in their midst and did nothing about it. In fact, even after being convicted of sex crimes against minors, the Australian Catholic Church has not stripped Vears of his priesthood. Maybe they’re planning to reinstate him when he gets out of prison? Seriously, is anyone surprised?
Okay, how about this one? Rev. Clarence Vavra admitted in a May 1995 psychological evaluation that he had attempted to anally rape a young boy in South Dakota nearly four decades ago and that report made it to the local vicar general where it sat in his filing cabinet for close to 40 years. There were no police reports filed, nor any official investigation, but here you had a priest who admitted his wrongdoing and was never stripped of his collar. Today, Vavra lives less than a block from a school and because he has no official sex-offender status, there’s nothing anyone can do. This just reveals the lengths that the Catholic Church goes to in order to hide pedophile priests, even when it knows, for an absolute admitted fact, that they exist. It’s been discovered that three archbishops — John Roach, Harry Flynn and John Nienstedt — failed to report Vavra to authorities or warn the public. Vavra was transferred 11 times over 20 years and when he finally retired in 2003, the Archdiocese gave him additional payments, above and beyond what he was owed as a pension, to retire early. We can only wonder what happened between the first case of reported abuse and 2003, surely this can’t be the only case because they knew about it in 1995 and didn’t act until 2003. I think it’s safe to say that there is more going on here than we’re being told, yet the current archbishop is still pretending to have a zero-tolerance position.
“It is critical to understand that our standard is zero tolerance for sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult and absolute accountability,” said John Nienstedt just a few months ago. “For the sake of the dignity of each human person and for the sake of our souls, we must fix this problem of sexual misconduct right now. For the sake of the God we love and serve, and for all who are counting on Catholic leadership to live by our beliefs and our word, I will not allow it to stand.” Yet that’s exactly what’s happened so far and has happened for decades. Can we really believe people who are not willing to release all of the names of all of the pedophile priests they have on record, living or dead? I know I don’t.
And if that’s not enough, we have more cases of Catholic sex abuse coming out of the Dominican Republic. Authorities in Poland have received 650 documents detailing the abusive behavior or two Polish priests in the Dominican Republic. Father Wojciech Gil and Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski have both been accused of abusing multiple boys in the DR. Gil has been recently seen in Krakow and is accused of abusing at least seven boys while leading a parish in the town of Juncalito. Archbishop Wesolowski, as an official Vatican ambassador to the DR, has diplomatic immunity due to his post, but the Vatican has reportedly recalled him to Rome and is doing it’s own investigation. While I can’t say I trust the Vatican farther than I could throw it, Francisco Dominguez Brito, the DR’s attorney general, says “what has happened is inexcusable,” and that he wanted charges to be made “as quickly as possible.” What happens here is anyone’s guess. The “funny” thing is that both Gil and Wesolowski were alerted to police by another local Catholic, Deacon Francisco Javier Occis Reyes who is also being held by police on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Where does this end?
Finally, it’s not bad enough that we have individual Catholic officials ignoring their legal and ethical duties in not reporting these pedophile priests, now we have Catholics in Minnesota lobbying against a new sex abuse bill that’s currently working it’s way through the Minnesota legislature. Now I don’t blame the individual parishioners for contributing because many of them did not realize what their Church was going to do with their money, but the Catholic Church “spent heavily” to stop a bill that would increase the amount of time that sex abuse victims could file legal complaints against their abusers. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis spent more than $800,000 over seven years to oppose a bill that overturned the statute of limitations of sex crime victims and since it ultimately passed, more than 18 new lawsuits against the Catholic Church have been presented.
According to State Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, who authored the bill, “They want the public to believe they are very caring about something, but behind the scenes they are very actively opposing the kind of steps or remedies or legislation that would hold them accountable for their conduct.”
I could to on and on and on, but no matter how many times the Catholic Church says they are against pedophile priests and they want transparency, the fact is, they do not. They want to continue to get away with crimes against children, they want to keep moving their problem priests around and they want to hide the truth. It’s clear that they have known and continue to know all about these crimes and they don’t want to do a thing about it until it’s forced upon them.
Is it any wonder why the Catholic Church continues to be at the head of the table for Horror Show Sunday?