Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A visionary life

I've just heard that legendary radical priest, Father Paul D Auberon SJ has died.

His loss will be keenly felt by many people in Paulsberg diocese in South Africa, or Azania as he insisted on calling it, though perhaps not so acutely by his bishop, Scott Bellsonit with whom he had had numerous clashes in recent years, chiefly over Auberon's insistence on celebrating Mass in white tie and tails and reshaping the liturgy of the Eucharist to include a tap-dance. In place of the traditional concluding rite, he would invite the congregation to join him in shouting "Amandla!" and punching their fists in the air. His admirers loved his "freestyle Masses", his critics called him a "liturgical vandal".

He will be remembered for his many kind gestures; his offer of administrative assistance to the South African Bishops' Conference was typical of his thoughtfulness, though his enemies didn't miss the opportunity to blame him for the disappearance of an office filing cabinet, which was said to contain documents destined for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

Father Paul was a champion of numerous progressive causes and together with his great friend, Sister Jessica Rabbitte he worked tirelessly to organise his fellow clergy into a trade union. His attempts to affiliate the nascent union with the main South African trade union umbrella organisation were derailed, however, when it emerged that other members included the national chapter of the International Union of Sex Workers. Nonetheless his efforts won him new admirers including in the English diocese of Portsmouth.

At the end of his life he was working on a multi-volume work of political theory, the working title of which was Making it happen: towards a government of workers, peasants and clerics.

He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Griff nach der Weltmach, the sequel by Sinead O'Connor, published by Loonybins Press

OK, so this is where we're at: I've now caught out FOUR (4) people talking the most egregious crap about a document - and how many times do I have to say this? - EASILY AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION?

Christopher Hitchens, Johann Hari, Peter Tatchell and now Sinead O'Connor on Newsnight last night and what the hell were the producers thinking of putting her on national television? O'Connor is, how can I put this politely? A complete fruitloop/delusional/badly out of her depth, choose whichever you fancy. Last night she gave a bizarre rambling performance, jabbing a pen in the camera's direction and lolling around on her seat.

For crying out loud. The woman thinks she shares in the apostolic succession.

And Newsnight calls her on to talk about a Vatican document. They may as well have asked David Icke. 

The lesson to take away from all this: you can't rely on secondary sources. The authors might be and in this case are lying their heads off.

Look I'll make it easy for you.

Here it is. Read it yourselves.


Funny moment of the programme (for me). Gavin Esler turned to my old mucker, Austen Ivereigh (for it was he) and asked if he knew about the Ryan Report.

Yes, he did indeed.

How do I know?

Because I read it first - cover to bleeding cover, all of it, not just the executive summary - and identified the highlights for him.


Another darkly humourous moment: Sinead O'Connor, or Mother Bernadette Mary as she is also known, struggling with a peice of text and trying to argue that it was the order from the centre for a cover up. Look, I think she's a sweet, well-intentioned if mixed-up woman. Honestly I do. But Fritz Fischer II she aint.

Word of advice to Sinead: don't give up the day job.

One other thing: if you think Newnsight is out-of-order in allowing a poor unstable woman to say crazy things about Crimen sollicitationis and mislead the public on national television, here's a link to its blog. Leave a comment. Tell them what you think.

If you didn't see the programme, watch it on iplayer here. The Catholic Church sex-abuse segment with Sinead O'Connor and Austen Ivereigh is around 35 minutes in.

Paedophiles are human too

"Press coverage and popular myth invite us to see paedophiles as cold, clever Machiavellian plotters. Sometimes this is true ... But far more often, they are sad, pitiful losers, the furthest of outcasts from our society.
Our hysterical climate about paedophilia had actually made them more likely to offend ...Most of the paedophiles I met had given credible testimony of sexual abuse. We do not like to admit this, because it muddies our moral indignation. Could the monster Gary Glitter once have been one of the innocent abused children we so want to protect? Can there be mitigating factors that make paedophiles human?
We cannot hope for a cure – that is not realistic, and paedophiles can never be released from the hell of being attracted to people who are incapable of reciprocating. However, they can undergo counselling that reduces their chances of reoffending substantially.
The best we can hope for, then, is to help paedophiles to control their urges and to desist from harming children, and to imprison indefinitely the small minority – such as Sidney Cooke – who do not want to stop.
Instead of driving them underground as we do at present, where their only source of friendship and comfort is to get involved with on-line paedophile rings, we need to draw them out into an environment where they can be supported in their efforts not to offend. It is not perfect – but it is far better than the current situation, where under the guise of caring about children, we are making it far more likely that child molesters will strike."

And who wrote this disgusting apologia for sex-abusers, tastelessly suggesting that people guilty of despicable and evil crimes should be be given therapy not punishment and understanding not condemnation? Who indeed?

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there #3 Mary Kenny on how times and attitudes have changed

"I remember a point in the later 1970s when there was a pro-paedophile 'liberation' lobby. It was called the Paedophile Information Exchange and it argued publicly for the lifting of the prohibitions (or 'prejudices') against paedophiles. Mary Whitehouse, that doughty campaigner against pornography, took up the cudgels against the PIE - as is described in her autobiography, A Most Dangerous Woman - and was laughed at by liberals for her 'reactionary' attitudes.

In 1978, I was living in Bloomsbury in central London when the PIE held a rally in one of the local meeting halls once so beloved of Bertrand Russell and the Bloomsbury Group. Members of the PIE had affiliated themselves to the National Council for Civil Liberties and some in the NCCL supported their cause. To the surprise of many, however, this particular meeting was strormed by a group of working-class grannies who denounced the idea of paedophile relations as 'wicked' and 'evil'. There was a fierce hullabaloo, and the PIE withdrew.

Liberals were appalled at the fracas, but the battling grannies gradually gained public support. (And later, militant feminists began to support Mrs Whitehouse on both pornography and paedophilia.) Valerie Riches, founder of The Responsible Society, also campaigned against the PIE, and was one of the strongest voices against that particular 'liberation' movement, which was within an ace of being accepted. "

From Mary Kenny's column in the Catholic Herald via David Lindsay.

Mary Kenny is a very fine writer. Her 1997 book, Goodbye to Catholic Ireland was a superb work, gracefully written and crammed with fascinating detail. I have a well-thumbed copy on my bookshelf and thirteen years after its publication it's a book I still regularly consult. Mary - in that wonderful book, she expressed irritation at the habit of referring to women by their surnames, insisting that the name Mary is a very good one, which indeed it is - is, I think, like me, a fan of that high priestess of Gynocracy, the Divine Camille.

Breaking news - Government to ban smacking for anyone working with children outside the family

From the Department for Children, Schools and Families

Press Notice


Issue Date: 30/03/2010

Government to ban smacking for anyone working with children outside the family

The Government has today announced its intention to ban physical punishment of children in any form of tuition or care outside of the family following recommendations from the Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton.

Current legislation means that teachers in schools are banned from using any form of physical punishment, but those who tutor outside of school, including in part-time educational and learning settings and evening and weekend faith schools, are not covered by the ban. But following Sir Roger’s report Physical punishment: improving consistency and protection, the Government announced today that physical punishment of children will be banned in all forms of tuition, care and supervision outside of the family.

Ministers responded to concerns raised late in 2009 about the use of physical punishment in supplementary and part-time faith schools. In January 2010, the Children’s Secretary asked SirRoger Singleton to investigate urgently whether Government action was needed on the issue.

Sir Roger Singleton collected the views of parents, children, religious leaders and children’s charities over two months. In his report, he makes three recommendations to the Government which have today been accepted in full:

The current ban on physical punishment in schools and other children's settings should be extended to include any form of advice, guidance, teaching, training, instruction, worship, treatment or therapy and to any form of care or supervision which is carried out other than by a parent or member of the child's own family or household.

The Government should continue to promote positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques directed towards eliminating the use of smacking. Parents who disapprove of smacking should make this clear to others who care for their children.

The development of appropriate safeguarding policies in informal education and learning organisations should continue to be promoted. Legal changes which flow from adoption of these recommendations will need to be communicated effectively.

Responding to the report, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said:

“Sir Roger’s report makes it absolutely clear that a child should not be smacked by anyone outside their family. I believe this is a sensible and proportionate approach.

“The Government does not condone smacking, nor do we want to criminalise parents who choose to discipline their children with a mild smack. We know that the majority of parents agree with this view.

“I am glad that Sir Roger ’s recommendations back the Government’s drive to promote positive parenting techniques, giving mums and dads better alternatives to smacking. I am thankful to SirRoger for his extensive work with charities and parenting groups and his careful consideration of this sensitive and complex issue.”

The Government’s Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton said,

While preparing for this report it was clear that there are a wide range of views on this area. Banning physical punishment outside of the family home sends a straight forward message that it is entirely unacceptable in any form of care, education or leisure.

“There is some excellent ongoing work promoting positive parenting techniques. It is imperative that this work continues to give all parents the ability to support a child’s development without the recourse to physical punishment.”

In 2009, the Government worked with a range of charities and voluntary organisations to produce a guide entitled ‘Being a Parent in the Real World’ which aims to help parents avoid smacking as a form of discipline.

Sir Roger Singleton highlights that this guide and others like it should be further promoted to ensure more parents have alternative behaviour management techniques for disciplining their children.

Sir Roger Singleton also recommended that the Government should further promote the importance of child protection and safeguarding policies and practices for more informal educational and learning organisations.

Notes to editors:

The report and response can be found:

On 28th January, the Secretary of State asked Sir Roger Singleton for advice on the use of physical punishment in part-time educational and other learning settings.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there #2

And another example showing just how different attitudes were to child sex-abuse a few decades ago.

From the wikipedia entry on Danny Cohn-Bendit

"In the 1980s the Greens experimented with various policies which would decriminalise sex with children. At its national conference in Lüdenscheid (March 1985) the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia called for "nonviolent sexuality" between children and adults never to be subject to criminal prosecution. In 1987 the policy was "When young people have the desire for older peers outside the family, prevented either because their homosexuality is not accepted by their parents, or because they have paedophile inclinations, be it for other reasons, they must be given the opportunity to do so."

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there #1

Another example demonstrating how attitudes to child sex-abuse have changed radically in recent decades. From a 2001 story in The Observer.

Sixties hero revealed as kindergarten sex author

A respected Green MEP and leading figure of the Sixties protest movement has admitted to The Observer that he wrote an article claiming he had sexual contact with very young children. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, MEP for the French Greens, wrote about how flirtatious encounters in the early Seventies with children in his care as young as five had taken on 'erotic characteristics' and soon developed into more intimate contact from which he did not walk away.
When confronted last week with the article, which appeared in the August 1976 edition of the racy, now defunct cultural-political magazine das da, Cohn-Bendit said what he had written was 'unacceptable and unbearable'. He claimed his descriptions of sexual activity with the children were based on fantasy. No disclaimer to this effect appears in the article.
The article was a spin-off from a best-selling book, The Big Madness, that Cohn-Bendit wrote in 1975 about child education. The book drew on his two-year experience working in a Frankfurt kindergarten with children aged from two to five. In the article, he wrote: 'My constant flirt with all the children soon took on erotic characteristics. I could really feel how from the age of five the small girls had already learnt to make passes at me. It's hardly believable. Most of the time I was fairly defenceless.'
Later he added: 'It has happened to me several times that a few children opened the flies of my trousers and started to stroke me. I reacted differently each time according to the circumstances, but their desire confronted me with problems. I asked them: "Why don't you play with each other, why have you chosen me and not other children?" But when they insisted on it, I then stroked them. For that reason I was accused of perverted behaviour.'
Speaking by phone from his Frankfurt home, where he lives with his wife and daughter, Cohn-Bendit said on Friday that the damning paragraphs had been written as 'verbal provocation'. 'It was meant to illustrate the difficulty of the educator in bringing up children: how does one accept that children have a sexuality, and also to recognise the resistance against which educators have to work. It was written in an autobiographical way and wasn't scientific - it was a literary exaggeration.'
But he added: 'I admit that what I wrote is unacceptable nowadays. When I look at those sentences today, I say to myself, "Hey Danni, that's impossible!" It's quite legitimate that personalities should be forced to confront their pasts.'

Palm Sunday 2010: Smearing the Pope outside Westminster Cathedral

(Picture: Chris Houston of Outrage)

Read the slogans on the placards. Pay particular attention to the legend on the placard held by Peter Tatchell in the centre of the picture. If it refers to Crimen sollicitationis, which I think it does, then it is deeply, patently, wholly untrue. And unless the No Pope Coalition can produce evidence substantiating the charge on the placard, an untruth is what it remains.

Let's be frank. This has nothing to do with a state visit, or with taxpayers' money, nor does it really have anything to do with sex-abuse either.

"[T]he disproportionate reaction to the clergy abuse issue, the suggestions of pervasive criminality, cannot be understood except as a reflection of accumulated political grievances over other issues, often involving sexuality and gender" - Philip Jenkins 2003.

Easter 2002: Hysteria in Boston

"Long-standing media hostility to the Catholic Church was expressed in singularly frank terms in 2002, during what was commonly (and misleadingly) called the nation's 'pedophile priest' crisis. Even reputable news outlets presented a pictuire of a Catholic priesthood heavily infiltrated by perverts and child molesters ... This awful picture gave the opportunity for the widespread public expression of grotesquely anti-Catholic and anti-clerical sentiments and the revival of every ancient stereotype - even the sale of indulgences.


"Undeniably some Catholic authorities had responded poorly to abuse problems in bygone years, sometimes callously or irresponsibly, and on occasion worse than that. Yet the disproportionate reaction to the clergy abuse issue, the suggestions of pervasive criminality, cannot be understood except as a reflection of accumulated political grievances over other issues, often involving sexuality and gender. Every interest group with an axe to grind now used the 'pedophile crisis' as the grounds for unrestrained frontal attacks on the clergy , but also on fundamental aspects of Catholic belief. To appreciate the degree of hostility that now became evidence, we can cite the placards carried by protesters outside Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral at Easter 2002. One banner proclaimed 'Let us prey'; another warned 'Hold on to your children'; another labeled Law's Cathedral a 'house of rape' ...
In modern American history, no mainstream denomination has ever been treated so consistently, so publicly, with such venom."

The New Anti-Catholicism: The last acceptable prejudice, Philip Jenkins 2003.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Willie Horton, or will he not get elected?" Smears, lies and the No Pope protest

Remember this?

Hate campaigns never go out of fashion.

Yesterday around 30 people parked themselves outside Westminster Cathedral to protest against the Pope and Roman Catholicism. They brandished placards depicting a priest putting his hands on a child's shoulders in a paternal gesture with the slogan, "Be very afraid" underneath. Peter Tatchell was one of those who carried a placard reading, "Pope's 2001 order to bishops: cover up child abuse".

There's no other way of putting this but that slogan was an outright lie. A publically-expressed, hatred-formenting lie.

It's a deeply sad thing to see, not the brazen lie about the Pope and a document easily found in English translation on the internet but the sight of a man wrecking his own hard-won reputation for the sake of, what, precisely? Nothing of such importance that it justifies the falsehood on the placard.

Now Michael Sean Winters takes on the New York Times

The fisking of news reports and columns about the sex abuse stories and the Church is now fast and furious as Catholics lose patience with the media witchhunt against the Church.

Michael Sean Winters is the latest to take aim, this time at the New York Times and its reportage of the Milwaukee scandal.

The New York Times’ article, by the usually reliable Laurie Goodstein, was not only unsupported by the documentation the paper cited, it seemed unrelated. From the documents the Times provided it seems abundantly clear that there was a monster priest, Father Murphy, in Milwaukee who abused dozens and dozens of deaf children, and that when this came to light in 1974, he was retired from ministry. Twenty years later, in 1996, a different charge was made against the priest, that he had granted absolution for sexual sins in which he was complicit. This was referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was headed at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. To be clear – and this is important because the Times’ article seems to elide the charges – Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF had no jurisdiction over abuse claims in 1996. Charges of sexual abuse only became the CDF’s responsibility in 2001. To suggest that Cardinal Raztinger was not taking the charge of sexual abuse seriously is not just interpretatively wrong in this case but factually wrong: The charge of sexual abuse was not in front of him.

As Winters' puts it, "The Holy Father does not need the support of a lowly blogger, but he and the Church he leads deserve fair treatment by journalists. Yesterday, neither the Pope nor the Church got a fair treatment in the Times."

Read it all here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

False media, we don't need it do we?

This report in today's Obs really is winging it.

'Pope Benedict XVI is facing growing pressure over his handling of paedophile priests as new cover-ups come to light in Italy, the country with the greatest concentration of Roman Catholic clerics.
After the latest allegations – that Benedict took no action in the US when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer – the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group. "With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mirabile yesterday. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years before he became pope in 2005.
"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mirabile added.
Sergio Cavaliere, an Italian lawyer who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, also believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations. "The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Cavaliere. "And in no single case did the local bishop alert police to the suspected abuse."'

And so on and so forth. Lots of opinionated quotations, the usual forecasts that cases so far represent the "tip of the iceberg" and absolutely nothing in the way of hard news.

Over at the Sunset Times, India Knight jumps on the bandwagon - I'm surprised there's any room left at this stage - and holds forth with some fatuous reasons that she is no longer "in" the Church. The fact that she ever was ever in it is news to me.

Somehow, I think we'll survive her departure.

Also in the Sunday Times, there's a report that the Vienna Boys Choir has also been caught up in the "wave" of sex-abuse cases sweeping Austria and Germany, filed by ... Roger Boyes. I hope, dear reader, that you will excuse me this moment of levity.

Television, the drug of the nation

The last two weeks have seen some of the worst reporting of the Catholic Church that I can remember. Journalists - or do they blame their subs and editors? - have written extraordinary rubbish about a document easily obtainable in English translation on the internet, columnists have hyperventilated irrationally about an institution they hate for reasons they no longer remember and people who would have been rightly outraged by the notorious Willie Horton political broadcasts in the 80s raise no objection to accusations being treated as proven facts. So much for basic liberal principles like the presumption of innocence.

Sometimes it's worth getting the mass-media in perspective.

Here are the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy with the classic, Television the drug of the Nation.

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation
T.V., is it the reflector or the director?
Does it imitate us
or do we imitate it?

Johann Hari's rude and bigoted reply to a reader who corrected his factual inaccuracies

Naturally at this time of mass media hysteria over the Catholic Church sex-abuse stories, Christopher Hitchens is far from the only writer to have used his column inches to indulge in a prolonged bout of fantasy and rhetorical overkill on the subject. In last week's Independent, Johann Hari did much the same.

One reader had the effrontery to contact Hari asking him politely whether he'd withdraw some of the wilder statements in his column. The reader included quotations from Crimen sollicitationis, which Hari in his column quite madly claimed "order[ed] bishops to swear the victims to secrecy and move the offending priest on to another parish".

The reader also pointed out inter alia that "there is absolutely no proscription in any document on reporting any case of abuse to the civic authorities by anyone?" and argued not unreasonably that, "de delictis gravioribus is a direct action by the then Cardinal Ratzinger TO PREVENT diocesan cover-ups of sexual abuse cases - rather every detail of said crimes were to be reported to Rome - with consequent MANDATORY reporting to the civic authorities of said offences where it is the law; and recommended reporting where it is not?"

Hari's reply was spat out:

"What rubbish. "No proscriptions" on reporting the facts? It says they should be dealt with in 'the utmost secrecy'!
Shame on you for supporting this filth.
I get over 200 emails a day. I'm not really inclined to spend my time engaging with paedophile-defenders like - as you put it - "His Holiness."
I hope one day you have an awareness of the despicable and evil crime you are defending, and apologize to the victims. You can reply to this but I won't read it. I have better things to do."

Let me suggest that the better things Hari should spend his time on include fact-checking his copy, double-sourcing anything he writes about canon law, reflecting on the crucial role stereotypes play in perpetuating bigoted attitudes to minority groups and considering the following statement: taking issue with your copy, Hari, is not the same as defending child-abuse.

Then he should go and hang his head in shame.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"lurid prose is hardly a substitute for sound research" - another writer pulverises Christopher Hitchens

"Christopher Hitchens' venomous attack on Pope Benedict XVI1 is a revelation that deserves wider attention. Were it not for its appearance in the National Post, it would be difficult to believe that a reputable newspaper would publish such absurdity."

In a brilliant piece of writing, Sean Murphy takes Christopher Hitchens' hopelessly bad article, "the great Catholic cover up" brick by painstaking brick here.

I did something similar here a few days ago.

Hat tip: Londiniensis.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Now their prejudices really are showing

Members of the [No Pope] campaign agree the following view:

That the Pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country.
However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:
• opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
Remind you of anyone?
Like Baroness Shreela "tell the poor to have fewer children" Flather, for example.
Baroness Flather is a "distinguished" supporter of The British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society both of which are ... members of the No Pope Coalition.

Once again, for emphasis

A 1962 Vatican document ordering secrecy in cases of sexual misconduct by priests is not, according to canon lawyers, a "smoking gun" providing evidence of a cover-up of sex abuse orchestrated by Rome.

Civil attorneys handling lawsuits against the Catholic church have pointed to the document as evidence of obstruction of justice.
For one thing, canon lawyers say, the document was so obscure that few bishops had ever heard of it. For another, they say, secrecy in canonical procedures should not be confused with refusal to cooperate with civil authorities. The 1962 document would not have tied the hands of a bishop, or anyone else, who wanted to report a crime by a priest to the police.
The 39-page document, titled in Latin Crimen Sollicitationis, was issued in March 1962 by the Holy Office (today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). It established a procedure for canonical cases in which priests were accused of abusing the confessional to sexually proposition penitents. Four concluding paragraphs extend the procedure to the crimen pessimum, or "worst crime," meaning homosexual acts contrary to a priest's celibate commitment. The document was not designed to address sexual abuse of minors, but would include many such violations.
Paragraph 11 of the document stipulates that such cases are covered by the "secret of the Holy Office," today known as pontifical secrecy, the strictest form of secrecy in church law. Excommunication is prescribed for anyone who violates this secrecy.
The document was itself to be kept secret. Instructions on Page One direct that it be stored in the secret archives of each diocese, and that it not be published or commented upon. Msgr. Thomas Green, canon law expert at The Catholic University of America, told NCR Aug. 4 that unlike most church legislation, Crimen Sollicitationis was never published in the official Vatican bulletin Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
The document recently came to light because it was referenced in a footnote to a May 18, 2002, letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, to the bishops of the world regarding new procedures for sex abuse cases.
Boston attorney Carmen L. Durso sent a copy of the document July 28 to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, arguing that it may prove the Catholic church has been obstructing justice.
"This document may provide the link in the thinking of all of those who hid the truth for so many years," Durso said, as quoted by the July 29 Worcester Telegram and Gazette. "The constant admonitions that information regarding accusations against priests are to be deemed 'a secret of the Holy Office' may explain, but most certainly do not justify, their actions," Durso told the federal attorney.
Oblate Fr. Francis Morrisey of St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, told NCR Aug. 4 that he doubts the document had such an effect, because few bishops knew Crimen Sollicitationis even existed.
"The document was so secret that it couldn't even be mentioned," Morrisey said. "I'm inclined to believe that most bishops were unaware of its existence and contents until a situation arose, and so it never crossed their mind to take cover under this text."
Crimen Sollicitationis dealt with canonical cases against a priest that could lead to removal from ministry or expulsion from the priesthood. Its imposition of secrecy thus concerned the church's internal disciplinary process. It did not, according to canonical experts, prevent a bishop or anyone else from reporting a crime against a minor to the civil authorities.
"Of course, a bishop couldn't use this document to cover up denunciation of an act of sexual abuse," Morrisey said. "The document simply wasn't made for that purpose."
Green said the document was issued by the Holy Office because it had responsibility for dealing with "serious violations of the sacrament of penance."
Canon lawyers told NCR that secrecy in canonical cases serves three purposes. First, it is designed to allow witnesses and other parties to speak freely, knowing that their responses will be confidential. Second, it allows the accused party to protect his good name until guilt is established. Third, it allows victims to come forward without exposing themselves to publicity. The high degree of secrecy in Crimen Sollicitationis was also related to the fact that it dealt with the confessional.
Those motives for confidentiality, experts say, must be distinguished from a widespread "mentality" that sought to protect the church from scandal by not reporting sexual abuse by priests to the police. As a matter of canon law, the obligation of secrecy in canonical cases does not prohibit a bishop or other church officials from reporting crimes to the proper authorities.
Conflicts may arise, however, if civil authorities seek access to the secret acts of canonical procedures.
That Crimen Sollicitationis was not designed to "cover up" sex abuse, canonists say, is clear in paragraph 15, which obligates anyone with knowledge of a priest abusing the confessional for that purpose to come forward, under pain of excommunication for failing to do so. This penalty is stipulated, the document says, "lest [the offense] remain occult and unpunished and always with inestimable detriment to souls."
Canon lawyers also note that pontifical secrecy is hardly reserved to sexual abuse. Under a Feb. 4, 1974, instruction Secreta Continere, pontifical secrecy covers: 1) Documents for which pontifical secrecy is expressly indicated; 2) Affairs dealt with by the Secretariat of State under pontifical secrecy; 3) Doctrinal denunciations and publications of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as its investigations; 4) Extrajudicial denunciations of crimes against the faith or against morals, and crimes against the sacrament of penance, as well as the procedures leading to these denunciations; 5) Acts by Vatican representatives relative to matters covered by the pontifical secret; 6) Creation of cardinals; 7) Nomination of bishops, apostolic administrators and other ordinaries with episcopal power, and the procedures related to these appointments; 8) Nomination of superiors and other major officials of the Roman curia; 9) Codes and coded correspondence; 10) Affairs and practices of the pope, of the chief cardinal or archbishop of a dicastery and of pontifical representatives.

John Allen, 2003.

Yes, and the point is?

More crap on Crimen Sollicationis here.

Question for Ruth Gledhill, to whom this blog has been more than fair:

At what point do you think reportage ends and the promotion of anti-Catholic campaigns and events begins?

Take your time.

You wouldn't know the numbers were so low from the coverage

... In the past 40 years, less than half of 1 per cent of Catholic priests in England and Wales (0.4 per cent) have faced allegations of child abuse. Fewer have been found guilty ...

Vincent Nichols tries to calm the baying mob.

Meanwhile on the totally impartial BBC ...

Pope accused of failing to act on sex abuse case

Victim Arthur Budzinski says Vatican members knew about the scandal
Pope Benedict XVI failed to act over complaints during the 1990s about a priest in the US who is thought to have abused some 200 deaf boys, victims say.
As head of the Vatican office dealing with sex abuses, the then Cardinal Ratzinger allegedly did not respond to letters from an archbishop on the case.
A Church trial of the priest was halted after he wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pleading ill health.
The Vatican newspaper said the claims were an "ignoble" smear attempt.
The Holy See has been plagued in recent months by abuse cover-up claims in Europe, echoing a similar scandal that hit the Church in the US eight years ago.
For more than 20 years before he was made pontiff, Cardinal Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith - the Vatican office with responsibility, among other issues, for response to child abuse cases.
An archbishop wrote letters in 1996 to the Vatican watchdog led by Cardinal Ratzinger calling for disciplinary proceedings against Fr Lawrence Murphy, according to Church and Vatican documents.
Fr Murphy was a popular priest who is believed to have molested some 200 boys at St John's School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin, between 1950 and 1974.
A canonical trial authorised by Cardinal Ratzinger's deputy was halted after Fr Murphy wrote to the future pope asking that proceedings be stopped, despite objections from a second archbishop.
The accused priest said in the letter that he was ill and wanted to live out the remainder of his time in the "dignity of my priesthood".
Victims say Fr Murphy - who died in 1998 - assaulted boys while hearing their confessions, in his office, his car, at his mother's house and in their dormitory beds.
He was quietly moved to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes and schools, according to one lawsuit.
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of five men alleging the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Wisconsin did not take sufficient action against the priest.
At a news conference on Thursday in Milwaukee, one of the victims, Arthur Budzinski, said Fr Murphy had begun to assault him when he was 12.
Neither the clerical authorities, nor the police had intervened when he reported it, the 61-year-old said.
Mr Budzinski was asked through a sign language interpreter what he wanted to see happen now.
"Ratzinger can have all of the colonels and lieutenants they want fall on the sword for him, but eventually he has to 'fess up," the interpreter said.
Meanwhile, members of a group of clerical abuse victims who denounced Benedict's handling of the case in a news conference outside the Vatican were briefly detained by Italian police for not having a permit.
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said there was no cover-up, denouncing the allegations as "clearly an ignoble attempt to strike at Pope Benedict and his closest aides at any cost".
The Pope's official spokesman, Federico Lombardi, called it a "tragic case", but said there was no provision in Church law for automatic punishment.
Fr Lawrence Murphy died in 1998 with no official blemish on his record
He noted that police did investigate the allegations at the time but did not press charges.
The papal spokesman said the Murphy case had only reached the Vatican in 1996 - two decades after the Milwaukee diocese first learned of the allegations and two years before the priest died.
The diocese was asked to take action by "restricting Father Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Father Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts", he added.
Last week the Pope issued an unprecedented letter to Ireland addressing the 16 years of clerical cover-up scandals.
He has yet to comment on his handling of a child sex abuse case involving a German priest, which developed while Benedict was overseeing the Munich archdiocese.
The Rev Peter Hullermann had been accused of abusing boys when the now Pope approved his 1980 transfer to Munich to receive psychological treatment for paedophilia.
The disgraced priest was convicted in 1986 of abusing a youth, but stayed within the Church for another two decades.

Bigoted anti-Catholic s*** on Harry's Place

Excuse my language but I think one is entitled to express one's revulsion at this disgusting sight.

Marco Tranchino who typed that appalling garbage is something to do with a group (or website) called Facciamobrecchia. You can read for yourselves an example of its borderline personality-disorder output here.

I mean, saints preserve us, when was the last time you read such cretinous make-it-up-as-you-go-along junk-history - and do I hear you say David Irving, at the back?

Read it, go ahead read it. Right there in the first - first! - paragraph are a cluster of claims which are so mad that its author deserves the ignominious title Falsifier of History.

Pius XI an accomplice of Nazism!

Pius XI, the Pope of Non Abbiamo Bisogno, of Mit Brennender Sorge, the Pope who imparted the following words to a group of Belgian pilgrims in 1938:

"Mark well that in the Catholic Mass, Abraham is our Patriarch and forefather. Anti-Semitism is incompatible with the lofty thought which that fact expresses. It is a movement with which we Christians can have nothing to do. No, no, I say to you it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. It is inadmissible. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual progeny of Abraham. Spiritually, we [Christians] are all Semites"

Marco Tranchino asks thinking humans to accept that Pope Pius XI was an accomplice of Nazism. And in turn Harry's Place asks us to take this basketcase's words seriously and what is more to act upon them, attaching the headline, "now is the time to be heard" to his hatred-fomenting cynical opportunist bollocks.

Unsurprisingly Tranchino, who hails from an organisation which tells disgraceful lies about a dead Pope, makes some intriguing claims about the Vatican - for which no supporting evidence is supplied - and misrepresents the truth about Crimen Sollicitationis. This is what he said:

"The Pope failed to ask Cardinal Brady, Head of the Irish Catholic Church, to resign now that he has admitted his attempts to cover-up cases of sex abuse and has revealed that he attended meetings where two 10-year-olds were forced to sign vows of silence over complaints against Father Brendan Smyth, who continued abusing children for another 18 years."

Tranchino fails to mention the very pertinent fact that that the man who would become Cardinal Brady believed the two ten year olds and reported to his then bishop that action should be taken against Father Brendan Smyth. Of course he fails to mention it. Neither Tranchino, nor Harry's Place blogger, Outrage partisan and key member of the No Pope Campaign, Brett Lock are interested in an honest audit of Brady and the Church's actions, they want heat shed on the matter, not light. Tranchino goes on:

"However the responsibility for the cover-up cannot be on Cardinal Brady alone, since he was obeying orders from the Vatican. When the Pope talks of the superiors he should mention himself as the main person responsible for the cover-up. For 24 years the current Pope – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in charge of dealing with all cases of priestly sex abuse reported from all over the world. On the 18th of May 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter to the bishops confirming that for all cases of sexual abuse the highest secrecy was required, the so called Secretum pontificium whose violation would have meant excommunication: banishment from the Catholic Church."

A few things are worth noting, at this juncture. First, some of Cardinal Brady's actions in 1975 may have ill-judged but it's the first time that I've heard of a cover-up in which a priest recommends to his bishop that action should be taken against a clerical sex-abuser.

Secondly, I haven't read anywhere else that Brady was in 1975 acting on the Vatican's orders, not, nota bene, his bishop's but the Vatican's. Neither is a link provided to any story which vouchsafes the same. Is Tranchino careless with the claims he makes, deliberately lying, in possession of some world-exclusive documentary evidence which supports his assertion, or what?

Thirdly, Tranchino must again be privy to some explosive information about the then Cardinal Ratzinger's role in all this which he is reluctant to disclose at the present time, for he confidently asserts that Ratzinger was "the main person involved in the cover up". This was in 1975 when Ratzinger was nowhere near the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and some two years before he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising! In 1975 Ratzinger was working as an academic at the University of Regensburg. How then he was intimately involved, or involved at all in the goings on in the goings on in the Irish Diocese of Kilmore, Tranchino doesn't care the explain.

Then there's his treatment of Crimen sollicitationis in which he fails to mention, probably because he hasn't bothered to find out, that the Church demands that anyone propositioned by a priest in the confessional denounce them within a month or face excommunication, a penalty which is only lifted on denuncation or the promise to do so.

Whether Tranchino engages in these misrepresentations and wild accusations through laziness or deliberate dishonesty is impossible to say but it's indicative of his motivations that he does so in order to advertise a campaign against the Pope.

This blog has tackled the subject of sex abuse and the Catholic Church again and again. It has not unreasonably pointed out that her actions should be examined in historic context, that the temper of the times was one which was far more tolerant of adult-minor sexual activity, that this fact should not be divorced from any serious analysis of the Church's response to sex-abuse and that the media's reportage of these stories has left a lot to be desired.

It suits Harry's Place regular, Brett Lock, who is one of those organising the No Pope campaign for his blog to publish such egregious crap, the better to whip up ill-feeling against the Holy See and get a larger turn out at the next anti-Catholic jamboree (the last one was a bit of a flop).

He was challenged about this a few weeks ago by Socialist Unity's Andy Newman who gently suggested to him that the No Pope Campaign was inflammatory and divisive. Brett's response was to say that,

"Peter’s objection to the Pope’s visit to the UK is that it is a *state* visit and moreover at tax-payer’s expense. OutRage!’s position is that the Catholic Church should pay for the visit itself and that Mr Ratsinger should not be feted by our secular government. We do not object to him entering the UK… however, we reserve the right to peacefully protest against his views and actions.."

But I don't think that's true. The week, indeed the very day that Lock was fulminating against a head of state making an official visit to another friendly state, Mr Jacob Zuma, a man who is said to have some novel ideas about the means to combat HIV infection, was in town on an ... official visit. Did Outrage protest his visit and demand that the South African government pay for it itself? Not that I saw.

And supposing the Pope were to make a pastoral or private visit to the UK, are we to believe that Outrage would not mount a protest against him in those circumstances? I hope we aren't because it would be a quite literally unbelievable claim.

The peaceful nature of the protest against the Pope is stressed too by Tranchino, who said:

"We will demonstrate peacefully. We will hand out flyers, display placards and be available to hear comments and engage in discussions between 12 noon and 2pm."

I'm sure they will protest peacefully, observing the strict letter of the law. Whether they will be in accordance with its spirit is another matter, however. Campaigns which proceed by means of smear, misrepresentation, the dissemination of false history and the demonising of its opponents and protesters carrying nasty placards depicting the Pope as Adolf Hitler cannot be said to be conducive to a public atmosphere devoid of anti-Catholic prejudice.

Tranchino's piece ends with some bizarre thoughts about the Second Vatican Council and the doctrine of papal infallibility ("Papal infallibility was introduced by Pius IX at a time when the Church was a kingdom and ruled part of Italy; it is not in the message of Christ and in fact is rejected by theologians like the Reverend Father Hans Küng") which demonstrate nothing much more than his profound ignorance of Church teaching, history and Matthew's Gospel. And his peice is peppered with irrelevant references to Church teaching on celibacy and birth control on the one hand and a mysterious breed he calls "progressive voices within the Catholic Church" by which he probably means professional anti-Catholics who pretend to be Catholics of the Frances Kissling variety, with whose Catholics for Choice outfit I believe Outrage has worked with in the past, on the other. It's part of the No Pope Campaign's transparent devide et impera strategy in which supposed Catholics will be paraded before the press parroting the No Pope Campaign's line. If any journalists are minded to quote these "Catholics" between now and September's Papal visit, they may care to ask them some probing questions, like when was the last time you went to Mass?

So there it is: a tissue of misrepresentations and ugly distortions about the Pope and Catholicism. Unfortunately we should expect more of the same in the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Justice, no peace

A few days ago, Unite against Fascism joint secretary, Weyman Bennett was charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder, according to reports. Rather than soberly noting these facts and reserving judgement until a jury of Bennett's peers sees fit to return its verdict on the matter, Harry's Place, still relentlessly pursuing its vendetta against the anti-Zionist left, used the occasion to indulge in an unlovely tirade against Bennett and his party.

Bennett, remember, remains innocent until he is proven otherwise before a court.

Earlier this week it also emerged that the Metropolitan Police has paid damages to protesters it unlawfully arrested during the G8 protests.

It's as well to bear these things in mind before rushing to judgement when a political activist finds himself at loggerheads with the filth.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hype, hyperbole and Christopher Hitchens

In a piece written in his famously understated style, Christopher Hitchens presents a fair and balanced analysis of the Catholic Church abuse story.

Just kidding. The old soak didn't get where he is without playing to the gallery.

In his latest denunciation of the Whore of Babylon ("The Roman Catholic Church is headed by a mediocre Bavarian bureaucrat once tasked with the concealment of the foulest iniquity, whose ineptitude in that job now shows him to us as a man personally and professionally responsible for enabling a filthy wave of crime") da Hitch refers to Ratzinger's supposed efforts to obstruct justice:

"Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated 'in the most secretive way ... restrained by a perpetual silence ... and everyone ... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.' Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble."

He's referring here to the document, Crimen sollicitationis, a letter issued by the Holy Office and signed by Cardinal Ottaviani, updated in 2001 and reissued by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, which laid down procedures to be followed in cases where priests had used the confessional to make advances on penitents. This he depicts as a key link in the chain of the Church's criminal conspiracy to cover up sex-abuse cases.

In so doing he ignores the fact that the document goes to extraordinary lengths to see that the faithful denounce priestly sex-abusers, or putting it differently, Hitchens' is telling porkies, perhaps not deliberately - I can well imagine that he finds the boring but necessary business of research an impediment to his literary output. Nonetheless Slate's editorial team (doesn't it employ factcheckers?) deserve a rap on the knuckles for publishing such an outrageous falsehood.

The truth is that Crimen sollicitationis obliges Catholics to denounce priestly sexual advances within a month on pain of excommunication, a penalty which will only be lifted if the individual actually denounces the priest or promises to do so, as the document itself makes abundantly clear:

18. “A member of the faithful who, in violation of the (aforementioned) prescription of Canon 904, knowingly disregards the obligation to denounce within a month the person by whom he or she was solicited, incurs a reserved excommunication latae sententiae, which is not to be lifted until he or she has satisfied the obligation, or has promised seriously to do so” (Can. 2358, § 2)

Either wilfully or lazily, Hitchens also misinterprets Crimen sollicitationis' insistence on secrecy.

In his analysis of Crimen sollicitationis, the doyenne of Vatican correspondents, John Allen patiently explained, "canon lawyers believe there is good reason for secrecy in sex abuse cases. It allows witnesses to speak freely, accused priests to protect their good name until guilt is established, and victims to come forward who don’t want publicity. Such secrecy is also not unique to sex abuse. It applies, for example, to the appointment of bishops."

At this point it's useful to quote from Sandro Magister's interview with senior CDF official, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, even though those wedded to gothic horror fantasies about the Catholic Church will probably dismiss it as a pack of lies:

Asked about the document's recommendation of secrecy in proceedings, Scicluna noted:

A poor English translation of that text has led people to think that the Holy See imposed secrecy in order to hide the facts. But this was not so. Secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right – as everyone does – to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Church does not like showcase justice. Norms on sexual abuse have never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.

Note that comment about the Church not liking showcase justice? I'm sure Christopher Hitchens likes to think of himself as the kind of highminded citizen who opposes witchhunts and Vyshinsky-style kangaroo courts, too. Not for the first time, however, it's the Church's adherence to the basic principles of justice which shows up many of her critics for the illiberal extremists they actually are.

Read the rest of Magister's illuminating interview with Scicluna here.

Anyway, now that I've ruthlessly kicked away a key plank of Hitch's case, what's left? His gloriously drawling prose-style, is the answer. And that, dear reader, is how he should be read: with the same cool superficiality that he applies to his polemics.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Auntie Beeb shows her political impartiality

The following stories are currently running on BBC News 24's ticker tape:

• British Airways cabin crew have begun and three day strike - British Airways says 1,157 out of about 1,700 staff have ignored the strike and the company will reinstate 18 more shorthaul flights from tomorrow

• Seventy six people have been arrested and several injured during violent clashes between right-wing and anti-fascist extremists and the police in violent clashes during a demonstration in Bolton

Completely impartial, balanced and bias-free treatment of these stories, I'm sure you'll agree. Well done, Auntie!

What Stephen Lawrence taught us

We know who the killers are,
We have watched them strut before us
As proud as sick Mussolinis',
We have watched them strut before us
Compassionless and arrogant,
They paraded before us,
Like angels of death
Protected by the law.

It is now an open secret
Black people do not have
Chips on their shoulders,
They just have injustice on their backs
And justice on their minds,
And now we know that the road to liberty
Is as long as the road from slavery.

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us to love each other
And never to take the tedious task
Of waiting for a bus for granted.
Watching his parents watching the cover-up
Begs the question
What are the trading standards here?
Why are we paying for a police force
That will not work for us?

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us
That we cannot let the illusion of freedom
Endow us with a false sense of security as we walk the streets,
The whole world can now watch
The academics and the super cops
Struggling to define institutionalised racism
As we continue to die in custody
As we continue emptying our pockets on the pavements,
And we continue to ask ourselves
Why is it so official
That black people are so often killed
Without killers?

We are not talking about war or revenge
We are not talking about hypothetics or possibilities,
We are talking about where we are now
We are talking about how we live now
In dis state
Under dis flag, (God Save the Queen),
And God save all those black children who want to grow up
And God save all the brothers and sisters
Who like raving,
Because the death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us that racism is easy when
You have friends in high places.
And friends in high places
Have no use whatsoever
When they are not your friends.

Dear Mr Condon,
Pop out of Teletubby land,
And visit reality,
Come to an honest place
And get some advice from your neighbours,
Be enlightened by our community,
Neglect your well-paid ignorance
We know who the killers are.

Benjamin Zephaniah
From Too Black, too strong.

When police protect the Nazis

So far today more than 70 people, mainly UAF protesters have been arrested at the demonstration in Bolton, including UAF joint secretary, Weyman Bennett and leading SWP member, Martin Smith. This is not unexpected - the demonstration against the EDL earlier this month saw the arrest of some 50 anti-fascists whereas not a single EDL demonstrator came into contact with the long arm of the law - but is arguably indicative of the police's skewed priorities and tendency to see those who oppose fascism as the enemies of law and order.

Last week's Observer carried a piece about an undercover police agent, Officer "A's" infiltration in the late 90s of Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) an organisation led by the Socialist Party which does what it says on the tin: fight racism in Europe, though diving headlong into excitable bullshit, the Observer peice described its members and those of other anti-fascist groups as "violent far-left activists". As the estimable socialist blogger, Phil BC pointed out, "anyone with a passing acquaintance with the work of the SP and its predecessor, Militant, know political violence has never been part of its tradition." One observes in passing that the same can't be said of the police whose treatment of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six is well known.

"Officer A" described the lengths he went to embed himself in YRE (he was a so-called "deep swimmer" , a deep-cover police agent who had to immerse himself in his targets' activities) and the supposedly successful outcome of his penetration of the YRE (he learned that a demonstration was going to be larger than expected, something which could have been worked out by the rather cheaper expedient of reading the socialist press).

A key section of "Officer A's" reminiscences concerned the 1993 Unity Demonstration by anti-fascist groups outside the BNP Headquarters in Welling, South East London.

The prelude to the demonstration was the election of BNP candidate Derek Beackon to a council seat in Tower Hamlets and most importantly of all a shocking hike in racist violence in the area, soaring by 210 percent following the opening of the fascist headquarters in Welling in 1989 and including the murders of Stephen Lawrence (pictured), Rohit Duggal and Rolan Adams.
The Observer said:

"Officer A took part in a much larger, far more violent, protest in Welling, south-east London, against a BNP-run bookshop that served as the party's headquarters. Intelligence he obtained revealed that the demo was to be far larger than had been expected and that a particularly violent faction was planning to storm the bookshop and set fire to it, trapping any BNP members inside.

As a result, police leave was cancelled for that weekend and more than 7,000 officers, including a large mounted contingent, were deployed. Instead of being spread out along the entire route, police focused on blocking the main roads leading to the bookshop and forcing the march along a route that would take it away from its target. A violent confrontation ensued with a group of hardcore protesters – Officer A among them – attacking the police lines in an attempt to break through. Dozens of police and protesters were injured in the clashes."

Many others on the demonstration that day remember the event and the police's treatment of legitimate protest against murderous fascist violence very differently. Historian David Renton recalls:

"A small number of people had broken out to the front, and were in front of the main body of the march. To our right, were very large numbers of police. I am told they had 4000 officers on duty that day: a large group of them were there, blocking our route. There was a very strange piece of street-theatre. I could see the chief organizer of the entire event, Julie Waterson, with a megaphone.

The next part is confused in my memory, but I think Julie was trying to explain to the march that the police would not let us pass. She was standing next to another man, who I recognised as the Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman. There were four of five other celebrities with her. Julie was just saying something like 'we are now going to try and meet with the police'. She was quite in mid sentence, when a group of police left their contingent: they weren't officers but riot police, walked towards her quite slowly, and then started laying into her and the delegation with their batons.
All hell broke loose. I was completely stupid, completely forgot the people I was with, and rushed right to the front. Later, there were pictures of the demonstration, for example the front page of the next day's Mail on Sunday has the headline 'Masked Mob stones police' with me in the middle of it. I remember individuals trying to rush the police, and then being knocked back with their long batons. The police would break out in waves and try and attack the crowd."

He added:

"Afterwards, I heard different things: that every police officer in London had had their leave cancelled, that the march cost more than £1 million to police. Some papers reported that 60 people had been hurt – I think 60 were in hospital, many more were injured. I don't think there were hardly any arrests on the day – the police were under orders to maim, to take no prisoners. The coverage in the press afterwards was violent and incendiary. A man I knew Jeff had its picture in the Sun, he was accused of throwing bricks at the police. He had been, after a friend of his was injured. He lost his job and he was so nervous about being prosecuted, he had to leave the country."

Let it be duly noted that in that same year - 1993 - the Metropolitan Police in South East London was doing its level best not to investigate the murder of Stephen Lawrence and arrest its perpetrators. At the time the police, which has a track record of leaking nasty information about people it doesn't like - remember the smearing of Stephen Lawrence's friend, Duwayne Brooks, and those raided in Forest Gate and the whispering campaign against the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, not to mention the posthumous smearing of Jean Charles de Menezes when he was barely cold - put it about that it had encountered a "wall of silence" from the local community about Lawrence's murder, that its hands were tied because of the dearth of information available.

The Macpherson Report exposed those claims for the egregious self-serving rubbish they were. Contrary to the police's version of events it emerged that the local community was positively bursting with information about what had happened on the evening of 22nd April 1993 and who had done precisely what. Indeed, the evidence showed that the investigation was so wilfully incompetent that Dr Richard Stone who sat on the Macpherson Inquiry commented revealingly, "there was a large amount of information that the police were either not processing or were suppressing" and he observed "a strong smell of corruption" about the whole matter.

The fact that the incomprehensibly wealthy Clifford Norris, father of Lawrence murder suspect, David Norris, is said to have had friendly relations with key police personnel, is, I suppose, purely coindidental, just as it must have been a simple oversight on the part of the relevant police officers that they failed to give Stephen Lawrence first-aid when they found him that night, fatally injured, his life-blood draining away.

To date no one has been convicted of Stephen Lawrence's murder and only one police officer, senior detective inspector, Ben Bullock, faced disciplinary charges for his role in the extraordinarily incompetant police investigation. In 1997 the Lawrence family launched a formal complaint with the Police Complaints Authority, which exonerated officers who had worked on the case of racism. Bullock, second in command of the investigation into Stephen Lawrence's murder was found guilty of failure to brief officers properly and failure to investigate fully an anonymous letter sent to police but was acquitted of 11 other charges and promptly retired the day after his punishment was announced, as did four other officers who would also have been charged as a result of the inquiry. And at the beginning of this month it emerged that there would be no further action taken against a retired police officer and civilian staff worker arrested over claims that evidence was hidden during the Stephen Lawrence murder enquiry.
One appreciates that the police has a job to do but seen in this context - the record shows that pots of money have been thrown at placing undercover operatives in anti-fascist organisations and policing anti-fascist demonstrations at the same time that investigations into racist murders were strangely mishandled - and the old anti-fascist chant, "police protect the Nazis" seems more than legitimate. What a crazy state of affairs that is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ruth Kelly MP wants YOU to demonstrate against the EDL in Bolton tomorrow

From UAF:

The Bolton Unity Statement

We the undersigned completely oppose plans by the English Defence League to hold an anti-Muslim protest in Bolton on Saturday 20 March.
The EDL is a group of racists and football hooligans with close links to the fascist British National Party. When the EDL came to Manchester in October, Muslim graves in the area were desecrated. When the EDL came to Stoke-on-Trent in January, the words "Islam scum" and "EDL" were daubed on a local mosque.
Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims – is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. Its aim is to divide us by making scapegoats of one community, as the Nazis did with the Jews in the 1930s.
Today they threaten mosques, tomorrow it could be a synagogue, temple or church. Today they threaten Muslims, tomorrow it could be Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, black, Asian or Eastern European people, travellers or lesbian, gay and transgender people.
We have beaten fascists and racists before by standing up in unity against them. We cannot stand by and let these racists attack any section of our community.
Let's gather in such large numbers that we make it clear to these fascist and racist thugs that they are not welcome here. Let's protest against the racists and fascists, oppose their politics of hatred and defend Bolton’s diverse and united community.
We call on everyone to support and attend the protest against the EDL in Bolton on Saturday 20 March.
Signatories include: Ruth Kelly MP, John Leech MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, Tony Lloyd MP, Margaret Hodge MP, Dawn Butler MP, Beverley Hughes MP, David Chaytor MP, Graham Stringer MP, Ken Livingstone, Christine Blower (NUT), Billy Hayes (CWU), Hugh Lanning (PCS).

Don't let African Caribbean, Jewish, Asian people, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, Eastern Europeans and lesbian, gay and transgender people be threatened be terrorised by fascists.

Remember Pastor Neimoller and show your opposition to the EDL.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Response to clerical abuse report - a couple of letters in the Irish Times

From the Irish Times

Madam, – Niall O’Donohoe (December 7th) referred to Prof Neil O’Doherty’s lecture in 1980 concerning sexual abuse of children and the resulting severe criticism Prof O’Doherty received for even suggesting such things were happening in Ireland of that time.
Now I feel strongly that it is in the context of that time and later that this issue should be studied and not the partially media driven witch-hunt and scapegoating of auxiliary bishops of Dublin past and present. Truth and justice is not served in such scapegoating.
As was revealed, of course serious errors of judgment were made by the church authorities, but they were made in the context of the time. This is not by way of making excuses for the great damage that so many suffered by these crimes of depravity committed by men who totally betrayed the scared trust given to them at ordination.
Less than 20 years ago most educated people had never heard of the word paedophilia. As far as I am aware, professional and statutory bodies did not know how to deal with the problem when it arose. The judiciary would give out suspended sentences with a warning to offenders. The social services and Garda would often ignore information given to them of allegations in their area. They were extremely hesitant to intrude into the privacy of a family where such abuse might be happening.
The psychological/psychiatric professions sent offenders on treatment programmes and would often certify such people back to their location, or ministry in the case of priests, not realising that a very high percentage reoffended.
Finally. the Department of Education more often than not ignored very abusive teachers in primary and secondary schools throughout the country for decades and teachers’ unions likewise did very little to remove such teachers.
It was only about 15 years ago, when survivors of abuse felt free to tell their stories and be heard in the process, that it finally dawned on society – and not just the church – how appalling a crime sexual abuse is and the great damage it has caused.
Of course one can say the leaders in the Catholic Church should have known better, but in the context of the time they unfortunately did not. They failed – as other professions likewise failed. If bishops have to resign, then, in justice, leaders of other professions and statutory bodies who made serious errors of judgment in this matter should likewise resign. – Yours, etc,
Ramleh Park,
Milltown, Dublin 6.

I hope Cardinal Brady read Dr Lewis's letter because it's bang on the money.  The temper of those times - the 60s and 70s from when a lot of the child abuse scandals date, is something to which this blog has drawn attention. Quite simply attitudes to sex-abuse then were very different to those which prevail today, though it suits the commentariat and career "sex abuse victim advocates" to ignore that fact. Brady shouldn't not allow himself to be forced out by a media-driven witchhunt, the expressed child-centred sentiments of which stink to high heaven of insincerity.

Next an unintentionally revealing epistle by a Rosemary O'Keefe, from County Donegal. O'Keefe intends her missive to be yet another shouty-bollox rant against the Church but she throws in a short sentence which changes the whole effect of her letter. Something makes me suspect she's a not-the-sharpest-knife-in-the-drawer type of person.

Madam, – My first job as a young teacher in 1975 was in the Girls’ National School in Cromcastle Green, Coolock, Dublin. I worked there for four years.
Noel Reynolds was the curate in the area and was often in the school. I didn’t pay much attention to him. He was said to be very “charismatic”. I thought he was quite an ugly-looking, boring man and had nothing much to say to him. Little did I know that he was a paedophile preying on young girls, possibly even some of the lovely little girls in my class. I doubt if I had even heard the word paedophile then.
It makes my blood boil to know that he had access to those children through the school and that he and others like him were being moved around to schools and hospitals prowling on children.
It’s time indeed to separate church and State. – Yours, etc,
Rectory Road,
Ramelton, Co Donegal.

Hat tip: Shane on Damian Thompson's comments box, where he also pointed out that "Der Spiegel (founded by a committed Nazi) has offered €1 million to the first person who accuses the Pope of sexual abuse." Tasteful or what? Shane's blog looks very well worth a read, by the way. Check it out, here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Happy St Patrick's Day.

Here's St Patrick's Breastplate:

I bind to myself today

The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

When Irish eyes are smiling

Well done Bishop Roche!