Sunday 27 April 2014

John Paul II's Sainthood Overshadowed by History of Sex Abuse Coverups

Today, the Roman Catholic Church is set to make Pope John Paul II into a saint. Benedict XVI changed the rules around canonisation, allowing John Paul II's sainthood to be fast-tracked despite widespread criticism of his history of handling child sex allegations of Catholic officials. John Paul II continued to publicly lend support to his close friend and major fundraiser Marciel Maciel decades after the Vatican learned of allegations that Maciel had sexually abused over 20 seminarians.

Investigations into Maciel have found that he fathered up to six children with two mistresses, and allegedly sexually abused two of his children. In 2010 the Vatican admitted that Maciel had "skillfully managed to build up an alibi to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence, and strengthen his role as charismatic founder." The Vatican can admit that he lived "a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling," and that he "created around himself a defense mechanism that made him untouchable for a long time." What they won't admit is that the defense mechanism included John Paul II, who allowed Maciel to accompany him on trips to Mexico in 1979, 1990 and 1993, praised him as "an efficacious guide to youth" in 1994 and allowed the quote, as well as a photograph of himself and Maciel to be used by the Legion in their marketing materials.

During a 2012 trip to Mexico, Benedict XVI refused to meet with victims of child sex abuse by Mariel Maciel, and his trip was overshadowed by the publication of details of the Vatican's knowledge of sex abuse by a Legionaries of Christ sex abuse victim. The new book, La Voluntad De No Saber, meaning "The will to not know" includes over 200 documents  These documents include:
June 8, 1948:

—The Vatican's envoy to Spain sends the Vatican's Congregation for Religious an investigator's report to determine if Maciel's new association should be approved as a religious order. The investigator, the Jesuit Rev. Lucio Rodrigo, reports violations of the confessional seal, that Maciel falsified documents, demonstrates "a certain moral lassitude," and lives a life that "wasn't very pious and at the same time quite comfortable."
May 28, 1962:
—The Congregation for Religious summarizes the mounting accusations against Maciel: Suspended as superior by the Vatican from 1956-1958, he was ordered to get medical help to cure his morphine "abuse." Maciel also exhibits "dubious moral conduct," makes personal use of "copious amounts of money" without identifying its origins, gives "dangerous" spiritual direction to others with regards to priests' vow of chastity and demands priests in his order vow not to criticize their superiors.
That vow, which the Legion only officially removed in 2007, was key to Maciel's success in preventing his priests from coming forward with allegations against him.
"Given the nature of the accusations ... the moment has come to take definitive measures concerning Father Maciel, also to prevent great public scandal from arising," the summary reads. The congregation recommends removing him as superior, naming a new superior and a Vatican investigator, or placing the Legion in the hands of the archbishop of Mexico City.
Nothing was done.
Aug. 6, 1979:
—The Vatican's envoy to Washington sends the Congregation for Religious a letter from the bishop of Rockville Center, New York, along with a nine-part attachment detailing accusations against Maciel by two former Legion priests now working in his diocese. The documentation includes:
—An Oct. 20, 1976, letter from the Rev. Juan Vaca, from 1971-1976 the Legion's superior in the U.S., to Maciel, denouncing that night in 1949 when the "disgrace and moral torture" began in his bedroom, listing by name the 20 other Legion seminarians and priests Maciel had sexually abused over the years.

—A Dec. 24, 1978, affidavit from another former Legion priest, Felix Alarcon, backing Vaca's story and saying he too was a victim of Maciel and had been forced to procure him morphine.
Letter of Father Alarcon to Bishop McGann - December 24 , 1978 by sasecretary

—The June 21, 1979, summary of Alarcon's testimony to the Rockville Center chancellor, Monsignor John Alesandro, detailing the accusations. Alarcon "feels that the fact that the drug-related and homosexual activity of the founder could occur for such a long period of time without correction is only a signal of the deeper problem of the congregation itself," Alesandro wrote. "The congregation is a 'cult' of regimented and indoctrinated followers dependent slavishly on a central dependent-figure."

Sept. 30, 1979
—An analysis of the Rockville Center documents by the Congregation for Religious concludes that the crimes alleged by Vaca occurred a long time ago and the case should be left alone "especially since the order is flourishing and maintains its discipline and fervor." If the accusations are to be taken seriously, it continues, Maciel should be asked to respond. If he denies them, "let it go." If he confesses, he should be asked to resign voluntarily, the Congregation recommends.
June 28, 1983:
—Letter from John Paul's personal secretary, Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz, to the prefect of the Congregation for Religious, with the pope's approval of the Legion's constitutions, despite Vatican reservations that they include too many rules.

German Journalist Peter Seewald recorded a conversation with Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and published it as the book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times. Seewald asked the pontiff about pedophilia in the church, which Benedict claimed was the product of an intellectual climate in which the moral authority of the church was open to questioning. When asked about Maciel, who Benedict disciplined in 2006, he stated that nobody in the Vatican had any "concrete clues" about Maciel's sex abuse until the year 2000.

The UN has recently blasted the Vatican for failing to protect children from pedophile priests. The documents on Maciel show that the failures go all the way to the top.

A full English index of the leaked Vatican documents is available here. The 1979 letter to the Vatican with Juan Vaca's allegations is document 184

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