Published on 16 Sep 2010

Another cover-up at the Vatican?

So the cardinal in charge of relations between Christian faiths inside the Vatican for the past decade thinks Britain “sometimes feels like a third world country” and suffers from “a new aggressive atheism”.

Cardinal Kaspar says exactly that to a German magazine in an interview given to coincide with the Pope’s visit to the United Kingdom. This is the guy who sits down with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s people to plan the trip, to work out how a Catholic pontiff will handle a visit to a country in which another brand of Christianity – the Anglican church (woven into the very fabric of the British constitution) is sorted out.

Although he is in the course of retiring from his inter- Christian faith office in the Vatican, Kaspar has been Pope Benedict’s point man for this trip. This was to have been his swan song. So much so that last night the cardinal was to be found at a banquet thrown in his honour by the German embassy in Rome.

It was at the very moment that the German ambassador was welcoming his prestigious guest across the threshold of his embassy last night that the Vatican press office was letting it be known that Cardinal Kaspar was suddenly too ill to travel to Britain. Reportedly, he has a bout of gout.

Is this a Vatican cover-up? A lack of preparedness to apologise and admit that the reason Kaspar is not coming is that having committed so undiplomatic anoffence, the Pope refuses to absent him from the trip himself and allows him instead to slink off pleading illness. What a painful business his banquet must have been for him last night.

Does it all perhaps have the ring of the tortuous terminological inexactitudes we revealed last night on Channel 4 News when it comes to the church’s handling of it paedophile priests? Even heavy jail sentences upon conviction in English courts for paedophile crimes are not enough to defrock these men.

The church has new rules to ensure that they are “laicised” as a “norm”, but strangely 14 of the most recent 22 English Catholic priests to be convicted of serious child abuse crimes are still priests – one of them 10 years after he was released after serving a three year jail sentence.

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103 reader comments

  1. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Yes I read that in the BBC news yesterday.What was not clear was what triggered this perception.

    Did he see poverty.?

    Was there a lack of organisation?

    Were there beggars at the runway?

    Did he see other cultures working in all the available jobs?

    An explanation not a condemnation is required.

    There are too many people who jump on words to create trouble without fully understanding the implications of what they are putting fire under.

    1. Geraldine Grace says:

      Dear Jon Snow
      You must have been very disappointed by Pope Benedict’s welcome to Edinburgh. An uplifting experience to watch . Your media campaign against His Holiness failed in this instance.

    2. anniexf says:

      A graceless comment, if I may say so.I imagine Jon fully expected the welcome the Pope received – he’s not fool enough, nor arrogant enough, to believe he can persuade a committed RC to listen to mere reason, let alone to honest criticism.

    3. anniexf says:

      Sorry, Geraldine, my comment above was equally graceless, not to mention offensive, and I regret it. I withdraw it entirely, apologise for it, & would ask you to ignore it.

    4. Kate says:

      Good grief! Why get at Jon,Geraldine?
      I commend him, as ever, on his rigorous interviewing of the RC representatives on Ch4News. He asks the questions all truth-seeking people want answered.
      Your stance would seem to be one of anti criticism at all costs. Blind faith, indeed!

    5. Meg Howarth says:

      Well-said, Annie.

      NB Moderators: please may we have our thumbs back? When I called to check on progress months ago, I was told that the new site had gone on stream much more quickly than anticipated, and that work on thumbs was underway. ‘Tempus fugit’ as the pope would probably have it, so an update would be welcome. Jon: can you help in any way on this?

  2. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Pushed the button quickly and didn’t finish. How can one assess agressive atheism stepping off a plane?

    1. Tom Wright says:

      That, Margaret, is unfortunately a ludicrous comment. One only has to look at the commentary on this blog to see the agressive, anti-religious, atheist feeling which is common in the UK.

      It is a fact that religion of all sorts is widely regarded as bunkum, offering nothing but lies; false comfort for the weak of mind. Religious charity and good works are ignored and the ‘faithful’ derided as the lackeys of ‘organised’ religion, to the extent that the general view is that in some way, everyone who belongs to any religious organisation has been in some way abused, brainwashed if not actual child abused.

      I don’t suppose for a minute that being religious makes you a better person than someone who isn’t, but I find it disheartening that so many atheists who pride themselves on atheist tolerance are so intolerant of their religious fellows.

    2. margaret brandreth- jones says:

      I am afraid Tom that I am only citing BBC comments. My personal view and private life ,as another comment I have made qualifies and enables me to protect, serve and do no harm, as I am harmed.

      The aggression worded in the last few days will make me choosy who I talk to.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Tom i have seen very little Aggressive atheism.I am certainly not an atheist.What i do not believe in , is the Church.The various churches have used religion for their own ends and become dangerous entities

    4. Tom Wright says:

      Adrian I am staggered that you have the cheek to post that! Bear in mind that I frequently read your comments and actually KNOW what you normally post on the subject of religion. Your own comments notwithstanding, you’ve never heard of Dawkins? Not a credible answer. Not even slightly.

  3. Joanna Jay says:

    It may surprise many Brits to learn that NOT ALL pedophiles are, nor ever have been, Catholic Priests. And that NOT ALL Catholic Priests sexually interfere with children. In fact, the overwhelming majority of child abusers on this wicked planet have NEVER had a thing to do with Christian church-going at all – more’s the pity…!

    I say this, simply because once such sobering thoughts are digested surely it will not be quite so easy for quite so many to reach the facile conclusion that priest celibacy is the fundamental cause of that particular problem.

    1. anniexf says:

      Joanna, I think you’re overlooking the sheer number of paedophile priests ( and that’s only those we know about) as a percentage of the priesthood as a whole. Paedophiles, in general terms, form a minuscule percentage of the population; sadly in terms of the RC priesthood, that figure rockets.
      Probably it’s not celibacy that’s the cause – rather, it may well be that such men would never have wished to marry anyway, given their psychological makeup. One wonders what would attract this kind of man to the priesthood other than easy access to, and unquestioning obedience from, children.
      There must be something the RC Church can deduce about its structure, whether it be the policy on admissions to seminaries, the power and authority afforded to parish priests, whatever. Until the priesthood ceases to be attractive to perverts, nothing will change.

    2. Meg Howarth says:

      Well-said, Annie, re proportion of paedophile priests within priesthood as a whole – disagree with your explanation as to why, though.

      Re Joanna and ‘many Brits’: national stereotyping is an example of the faulty reasoning you’re trying to expose. Am confident we Brits don’t have the monopoly on unreason or illogicality – though there are limits to logic, of course, as a measure of human worth or guide to decent living.

      To return to reasoning re the catholic church: banning contraception as the church does, a teaching to which all priests must officially subscribe, is arguably doing more harm around the world than the church’s widespread paedophilia because of the millions it ensnares, leading amongst other things to the deaths of mothers and babies and the perpetuation of poverty.

  4. Paul Begley says:

    Comments on Snowblog are usually of a much higher standard than is typical of topical blogs in the UK. But I didn’t have to look far into recent contributions to find the following:

    “The Catholic Church is definitely involved in money laundering and other sinister actions”

    “A desplicable organiztion – true fascists.”

    “The Church,no longer a power in this country, still brain washes its followers in Catholic countries”

    “You only have to look at Hitlers rally’s to see the similarity with Islamic and Catholic ones.”

    The bile and invective directed at Islam was worse, but the Word Count restriction precludes quoting it all here. Perhaps the Cardinal has a point, when he speaks of a new aggresive atheism?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Paul, nice to see you use one of my quotes.I have no problem with people having faith.I have it myself ,and it has helped me through many hard times.
      My objection is to the power of the Church,that takes from the people for its own benefits.You only have to look at the immense wealth in its buildings and the way it takes from the poor to feather its own nest.
      I do not dispute that there are probably some good holy men in all religions , but they tend not to be in power.To object to the power and brainwashing by those in charge does not make me an atheist, agressive or not.
      If you say there is not mass brainwashing,in religions ,where do the suicide bombers come from ?, where the castigation of homo sexuals?,the instruction that contraception is wrong?

    2. Paul Begley says:

      Adrian
      I don’t have any problem with your beliefs. You’re entitled to them, just as I’m entitled to my different set of beliefs. What I find difficult to understand is why you feel they empower you to express contempt for other peoples’.
      I have a particular problem when someone asserts that those they disagree with have been “brainwashed” because
      1/ It’s a lazy way to avoid taking their arguments seriously
      2/ It’s very offensive to those who have suffered real attempts at brainwashing, to compare their experience with, say, the experience of attending a faith school

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Paul, what would you call the mass idolisation of a figurehead,because he is called Pope.Mass belief in his every utterance.The mass belief by Islamists that if they blow them selves up taking others with them , they will go to heaven with a number of virgins.
      It is not because i disagree that i call it brainwashing , it is because i can think of no other word .
      Why is the Pope so important? Who is he,that millions hang on his every word?That millions believe because of his words that it is right to castigate homosexuals,to ruin lives not using contraceptives,and the poorest in society pay millions into the Vatican coffers?You can not describe that as religious faith, for it is the idolisation of a man ,not of God.What would you describe it as?
      As for2/ It’s very offensive to those who have suffered real attempts at brainwashing, to compare their experience with, say, the experience of attending a faith school.I never mentioned faith schools
      You are quite right about your beliefs.They are yours to carry you through life and i do not criticise them .If you care to read my arguments , they criticise religion and the church, not faith or beliefs.There is a major difference.

    4. Tom Wright says:

      Here here Paul. I too find it the hypocrisy of those who celebrate their open mindedness by denigrating others dispiriting.

    5. Meg Howarth says:

      In the absence of thumbs, wish to express clearest support for Paul and Tom.

    6. Critic says:

      Quote “Matthew ch.18,v.16” In his address to the congregation in Westminster cathedrale,Pope Benedict said “the entire church bears the guilt and humiliation of such sin” meaning the sexual abuse of children by catholic priests.The Pope had no right to include the congregation made of millions of innocent people in the condemnation of such sins. It is the clergy,and the clergy alone, who should earn the blame.Pope Benedict is himself a priest at the head of the hiearchy and we can understand his concern for those fellow priests who have offended against the Holy Spirit in such a hideous manner. His charitable concerne for the fate of thoswe evil priests is understandable .

  5. Paul Begley says:

    Regarding the Cardinal’s diplomatic offence, I think this lends some perspective. It’s still on the BBC’s website if anyone wants to read the full story:

    Leaked FCO memo ‘will not affect Pope visit’
    BBC News Website 26 April 2010 08:04 UK
    ….
    “The Pope’s visit to Britain will not be affected by a leaked memo which appeared to mock the Catholic Church, the Vatican has said.”

    “The Foreign Office has apologised over the paper resulting from a “brainstorm” which said the Pope could bless a gay marriage or open an abortion clinic.”

    “Details of the document, which also suggested the visit could be marked by special “Benedict” condoms, emerged after it was obtained by the Sunday Telegraph.”
    ….
    “The document went on to propose the Pope could apologise for the Spanish Armada or sing a song with the Queen for charity.”

    Perhaps we need to sort out our own standards of diplomacy, before criticising others?

    1. vickiw says:

      well it is easy to sort them out: one wss an internal brain storm memo and the other was an intereview freely given in the public domain.

  6. Moonbeach says:

    I am agnostic but believe that the Pope’s visit should go ahead with a positive ‘spin’ to support the millions of Roman Catholics in our country.

    I do agree that Pope Benedict does appear to be accident prone. But he was not the architect of the policy to protect these animals. Who knows how far back this goes?

    The Paedophile priest cover up is beyond comprehension. I think that it was in the show “Not the 9 o’clock News” that the punishment for any crime was “Cut their goolies off”!

    A man with the reported intellect of Pope Benedict should be able to see that a metaphorical emasculation of these perverts was the least his flock and the rest of us would accept.

    Let us forgive these sinners after they have been defrocked and served long prison sentences.

  7. Tanya Spooner says:

    As with so much of what is taking place in the world nowadays, I just feel a sickened kind of helplessness. The people in power in the world are wreaking havoc in so many ways, and there is nothing, apparently, that can be done. I don’t have catholics among my friends, because generally speaking, I don’t seem to meet them very often, not because I would not want to. But I don’t understand how practising catholics can continue to think well of the Pope, even if it the Church, rather than its leader, which holds them in thrall. Of course, I don’t understand why anybody in the modern world continues to practice any faith, but while being an unaggressive atheist, I continue to find some of the sayings from the Bible useful and to try live my life in a way which Christians would recognise as moral.

  8. anniexf says:

    Surely we didn’t expect open-ness and honesty from the RC hierarchy? Their track record of lies, evasion and cover-ups makes the Cardinal’s excuse for absence seem trivial. It’s not, of course; his rash outburst about the UK can’t be lightly dismissed. There’s more than a hint of fear, as well as embarrassment, about his “gout” plea.
    Having seen your piece about the non-laicised RC clergy last night, and witnessed your interview with the apologist for such matters (sorry, can’t remember his name) in which he wriggled and squirmed and totally failed to give a straight or acceptable answer, I can only conclude that the RC hierarchy truly don’t “get it”. How dreadful for their faithfully laity, to be governed by such people. When protection of a structure is more important than the people that structure is supposed to serve, its protectors deserve no respect.
    That man said it was better for the paedophile priests to be kept in religious communities where they could have no access to children & where their behaviour could be monitored, rather than letting them out among the wider public. OK, but why allow them still to remain clergy, “Monsignor” this and “Father” that?

  9. Meg Howarth says:

    1 Re ‘tortuous terminological inexactitudes’: was about to congratulate you for your sympathetic handling of an obviously inept elderly interviewee put up to defend the church’s refusal to defrock its paedophile priests when I remembered that most of these still-listed males guilty of sexually abusing children probably now look much like your Leeds interviewee. Sympathy for the fall-guy has turned to anger at what seems like more machinations from the clerical elite: put an incompetent in charge of facing the media to try and deflect the howls of rage from the audience.

    2 Seems like Kaspar’s been reading the Daily Mail. No wonder he spouts bile and nonsense. ‘Third world countr[ies]’ are where RC church wields its tightest grip as Peter Tatchell’s C4 Mon documentary showed: the impoverished mother living with husband and five children on a rubbish-dump in Indonesia where their only living was scavenging for plastic to sell for a pittance. Yes, she’d like not to have more children – three had already died – had considered contraception but, smiling, said it was her Catholic ‘duty’ to have as many as possible. A fat smug president/PM said that was her ‘choice’.

    Jesus wept!

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      More tortured speech, this time from papal spokesman Federico Lombardi as he tried to explain Kasper’s ‘third world’ comment:

      ‘[Kasper] had no negative intention’; he ‘had meant to refer to the fact that from the moment of arrival in London airport – as happens in many big metropolises of the world today, but in London particularly because of the unique role played over time by the UK’s capital – you realise from the outset that you are in a country in which many human realities of the most diverse provenances and conditions meet and mingle; a crucible of today’s humanity with its diversity and problems’ (Guardian 16 September, front page lead)!

      The whole in to which the papacy is digging itself just got bigger.

  10. Peter Stewert says:

    Kaspar’s comments are unwelcome, but they do let us know that the UK both confuses and frustrates the RC. Given the number of UK citizens that have been only a generation or two away from a third world country we should be a country filled with credulous gumps (or so Kaspar seems to believe). Of course Kaspar, the RC, and any church (I’m looking mouth-frothing US preachers here) thinks the relatively powerlessness of even the state religion is a sign that the UK, by-and-large, doesn’t believe in anything and is a secularly anti-theist state.

    Of course the far more comforting truth is that the UK has a lot of believers in the material/unreal. Do we not believe in a ‘fairness’, in ‘justice’, ‘in live and let live’, that ‘this too shall pass’, and while such beliefs haven’t being drilled into us using the fear of god they are essential for a post-Bronze Age (i.e., non-Third World) country.

    1. anniexf says:

      Thumb up, Peter! Cracking comment :)

  11. adrian clarke says:

    In 1939, had Hitler been given a state visit to these shores,i am sure there would have been many large rallies,as he was seen as a man of the people , against the establishment.Yet he was a man mired in the black arts , saying one thing doing another.Believing in his rights to subject a nation to his rules and laws.A belief in the purity of the German race.
    I see many similarites in the Catholic church,and this Pope.The outpourings of Cardinal Kasper are in keeping with the belief that the Catholic church is above all others.
    It is time our Queen and her Government reiterated the split that Henry V111 first proclaimed

  12. Philip says:

    When you come across the Catholic Church’s behaviour over child abuse, the US pastor who wanted to burn the Koran and some of the Imams urging support for al Qaida and the Taliban, etc, etc – you can see why some of us are rather attracted to aggressive secularism.
    (On the other hand, we do have the Dalai Lama and the Muslim and Sikh leaders who met the Pope today who represent what religion should be about)

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Thumbs up Philip.I totally agree .Aggressivive secularism not Atheism.
      I do not agree that the leaders who met the Pope represent what religion should be , for they are leaders of different churches that at the end of the day promote their churches for their benefit, not the benefit of faith or their believers.

    2. Tom Wright says:

      Philip. Rather amused by the use of the Dalai Lama as an example. Wasn’t he removed by some rather aggressive atheists?

  13. Danny Gill says:

    As a Catholic myself I welcome the pope to the UK and wish him a pleasant stay meeting peoples of other faiths. I do feel that on his short stay he should meet some of the people who were sexually abused by priests and personally apologise to them for all the hurt and suffering they’ve endured over the passing years. The Catholic Church must face up to the fact they have swept these paedophile acts under the carpet and now is the time to accept mea culpa, it’s no wonder Catholics in their thousands have stopped attending mass and are worried quite rightly about it happening again. As for Cardinal Kaspar of course he’s entitled to his personal views but it seems strange how he’s suddenly became ill and cannot join in the Holy Fathers visit, yet can attend a banquet held in his honour in Rome. We are told Cardinal Kaspar is suffering from Gout, well let me tell you I suffer from attacks of Gout myself and when I do all I want to do is lay on top of the bed or sit on a chair all alone as the pain is that bad. Once again I welcome the Pope to the UK and hope he can meet as many people with other views as possible.

  14. Jim Flavin says:

    I do not recall any wars being fought for the cause of Atheism while many have for a thousand years or more been fought for the caise of religion – from the crusades to the presnt turmoil/ war between christian and Islamic countries – with US soldiers carving bible emblems on their rifles -and the 9/11 bombers thinking they were off to heaven .The present war in Afghanistan and in Iraq and soon maybe Iran are in the opinion of many just a continuation of the religous wars between christianity and Islam for past thouasnd years or more
    If Mr Kaspar want to see agression – he need look no furter than his own religion -which has also had and had people imprisioned ,tortured and burned alive for not believing what is palpable rubbish .

    1. adrian clarke says:

      just one digit raised in support Jim

    2. Tom Wright says:

      Which digit are you raising Adrian? Surely not the digitus impudicus ;-)

      Jim, while its certainly true that religion has been a cause of war, it hardly has a monopoly. The atheist philosophy of Communism, for example, has caused no end of war and suffering: Mao and Stalin are responsible for death on a scale that makes the Crusades a historical curiosity.

      The popular wisdom that if there were no religion then there would be less war is a pious hope. Human beings are prepared to fight over the things they believe in, and that’s not just God, its also things like Justice, Equality, & Freedom. Just like God these things are concepts, and, it could be argued, worth fighting over.

  15. Joanna Jay says:

    Contributing to this blog is a sheer waste of time. Since it’s abundantly clear that almost no one responds to any other reader’s point of view – probably because almost nobody bothers to read anything that anybody else (apart from Jon Snow) has to say…!!!

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Rubbish, Joanna. The absence of a response doesn’t mean we’re not reading each others’ words. Maybe we simply don’t have the time to respond.

    2. anniexf says:

      Note to Administrators:
      If we had our THUMBS back :) we might be able to convince Joanna that contributions ARE read!

    3. Paul Begley says:

      You do get some responses now and then. But it tends to be the following day. I don’t think C4 can staff “continuous moderation”, so comments tend to suddenly appear in blocks. Most days everything posted that morning turns up all at once between 12:00 and 1:00. This makes it more like position statements than a conversation. On the other hand, it’s usually free of blog trolls, in-groups and the like, and you do get the impression most contributors are honest (even if they disagree with you). Have patience, maybe it will grow on you – another moderate voice is always welcome!

    4. The Mob of a Hundred Thousand says:

      You have made a lovely, startling and insightful comment which has made our evening here. All one hundred thousand of us want to say thank you!

    5. Peter Stewert says:

      Moderation (understandably) takes time, and introduces a time lag on any exchange of comments, so while a conversation might develop often everyone has moved on to the next topic.

      That being said be careful what you wish for because you rarely (if ever) get personal-attacks and other trollish behaviours from our fellow Snowblog commentators.

    6. adrian clarke says:

      Joanna, i often replyto many writers if i agree or disagree .As annie said if we had our thumbs back you would see , so on this occasion i have to give you a thumbs down

  16. concious pilot says:

    the romans killed jesus then 400 years later they made a religion out of him and wrote a book called the bible which was a law book basically designed to brainwash the masses, its all about controlling the masses you see, do you know that the vatican funded the nazis and the italians tryed to take over the world by joining up with the nazis in world war 2. to me religion is an ancient scam of manipulation, humans are more inteligent in 2010 and we know god didnt make the world in 7 days, it took billions of years and it is all about evolution, so stop this thing called religion because its insulting. religion is fascist, supremist, manipulating mind control and its oppressive. any questions ask me because i have lived for 4 thousand years.lol

    1. Jim Jenkins says:

      From across the pond…Concious Pilot (does that sound like a rhyme for “Pontius Pilate” to British ears as it does to mine?): You’re right about the Romans making a Jesus into a divine God/man, although it was in the person of the emperor Constantine who wanted to exploit the counter-cultural new religion or cult to prop-up his regime. The church has been paying dearly for this compromise in its integrity.

      There is no “brainwashing” in the Beatitudes and the corporal works of mercy, but there is a lot of delusion in “hav[ing] lived for 4 thousand years.”

  17. OLDDUFFER1 says:

    Did nobody pick up that the head of the Belgian Catholic Church who when recently questioned as to why the bishop who had admitted to sexual offences against his nephew, (and then hid in a monastery!) had not been “de-frocked”, stated that it was “up to Rome”. He then stated that “in any case, he would be a priest for all eternity”!!!!!!!!!
    Anyone who believes this rubbish should have their “head examined”.

  18. CWH says:

    Mr Snow: you wrote: “”the Anglican church (woven into the very fabric of the British constitution) is sorted out.””

    Scotland – The Church of Scotland (the Kirk) – the established church of Scotland and protected by the Act of Union 1707. Dear, dear and you in Edinburgh today. Not done your homework. I wonder how often that happens? Perhaps more often than we are aware of.

    ‘British Constitution’ – what is that? Did not know we had one.

    Some further info: Church of Scotland has women elders, women ministers and, since the 1970s, two women have been Moderators of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland – the ‘Head’ of the Church of Scotland in so far as it has a head. Wonder how the all-male Church of Rome and all-male Bishops and Archbishops of C of E too. See Scotland – see enlightenment!

  19. PallMall says:

    Yeah, the Pope thinks we fought an atheist regime in WW2 as well, which is nonsense.
    Hitler thought he was a divinely favoured man( ring any bells? ) who was here to complete the work that Jesus Christ had started.As divinely favoured he thought he could assume complete moral authority over his followers( ring any bells? ). So personal moral responsibility was subverted in favour of the vision of one man. The motto on the German Infantry belt read ” Gott Mitt Uns “.
    The problem is NOT atheism or religion, but if anything, a lack of personal moral responsibility.
    In many ways the Catholic Church is just as responsible for subverting this too.
    The pope should give up the pretense that he is some kind of infallable moral authority. This doesn’t even make sense in the context of the Catholic Church! Do catholics really think that an answer of ” Well, the pope said so” would be a good defense if they really do have to account for themselves with a God?
    Religion may have been useful in the past in giving moral guidance, but we all have to grow up sometime and assume personal moral responsibility. This society is in its moral teens, may adulthood come sooner than later.

  20. Mudplugger says:

    Who was it said “Many good people do good things, many bad people do bad things, but to get good people to do bad things, you need religion”?

    Ah yes, Prof Dawkins. A good person.

  21. David Isaacs says:

    In my view, as a retired journalist, Channel 4 News is the best and most innovative news programme on televison. I hold Jon Snow and most of the reporters on the programme in the highest esteem. So why is it that the arrival of a geriatric cleric who promotes AIDS and presides over widespread paedophilia among his footsoldiers (and is, indeed, accused of culpability in a cover-up of child abuse) should be reported by Mr Snow with something akin to schoolgirl hysteria? I have never watched Channel 4 News with such a feeling of growing disgust and contempt as I did tonight

    David Isaacs (NUJ Life Member)

    1. adrian clarke says:

      David , reading your comments on Jon and channel 4,i take it you must have been yet another left wing journalist.
      I love channel 4 not because it is the best ,but because i love to argue against its left wing bias.
      However, i do agree with your comments on the Pope.

    2. Moonbeach says:

      I can really empathise with your feelings.

      I felt the same way when I read your unbelievable bile concerning the Pope.

      You must have been some reporter if you really think that the Pope “promotes AIDs and presides over … paedophilia.” I assume that you have made this judgement because of contraception and the recent relevations regarding perverted priests.

      But to blame the Pope because human beings behave with total disregard for others seems a bit of a ‘stretch’!

      I am not a Roman Catholic but, if there is a God, then I thank him that, with reasoning power like yours, you are not a scientist.

    3. margaret brandreth- jones says:

      Although I agree with the use of condoms for prevention of the use of STI’s, I think you are deliberately misconstruing the principle of expanding the catholic church and preventing life, by forbidding the use of contraception. The Pope does not sanction the spreading of AIDS. He promotes life and when it is required, celibacy. The consequences of that stance may be the proliferation of HIV, but the world wide congregation does have a choice.If I thought that by having sex with another I was going to get AIDS I would not engage in that relationship.

      The spread of AIDS to children is the most heartbreaking aspect of this and what in the case of HIV should be personal responsibility taking.I am sorry, but the view I take is .. If infected Don’t have sex.

      Many of us don’t even have an opportunity for physical love .It is not a right, but in the right context, a blessing.

  22. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    I am not a this or a that, but what I can see are people determined to celebrate love and not the evil which exists…that is heartening..

    ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ I can relate to. Drugs, abuse, violence and the adulation of all that is anti love/peace thankfully make me an outsider.

    We could be cynical … but no, let it be.

  23. simple simon says:

    16 -9 2010 E

    In his address, the Pope spoke of “a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society”. He went on to urge the UK to guard against “aggressive forms of secularism”.

    Put yourself in the position of a 1933 German Catholic as you read the text of the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican, the Reichskonkordat.

    The German Catholic Church has rescinded its ban on joining the Nazi Party. The Catholic Centre party has dissolved itself. [And Articles 31 and 32 prevent any revival of this democratic Catholic party which had opposed the Nazis.] In the Reichskonkordat, the Vatican has promised that German Bishops and their subordinates will be obedient to and honour the Nazi state (Article 16). It has promised that German Catholic educators will teach children patriotic love for the Nazi state (Article 21). It has requested and received the Nazi dictatorship’s promise to enforce internal Church decisions (Article 10). Cardinal Bertram of Breslau has called on Catholics to avoid all subversive or illegal (by Nazi definition) activities.

    Time for a new uk/vatican concordat?

    1. Paul Begley says:

      Simon provides us with a useful reminder of Pope Benedict’s early experience. He grew up in a state which had intimidated church institutions (and every other forum for opposition) into silence. He was compelled as a teenager into the Hitler Youth, an organisation which treated his christian values with contempt, and then conscripted into an army which had set to the destruction of Europe in the cause of race hatred.

      You can see how someone who lived through that might feel that some shared, non-negotiable values (like the idea that all people have intrinsic worth) would be needed, as a protection against any future repetition.

    2. PallMall says:

      Hi Paul, but that is exactly what our secular state is trying to do – protect core human values a priori.

      In otherwords lets forget whether you believe in a God or not and what you believe that God is like – surely we can all agree that what matters primarily is those core human values.

      What we believe is secondary to that. That way the secular state can encompass people of all beliefs.

      The secular state is not taking a view that there is a god or is no god – its allowing all of us to be open to either possibility or none. What we want to believe is up to us. Personally I think an open mind is a good idea.

      Religion tends to view core human values through the prism of its own belief system and that belief comes before the values. That you NEED to believe in God and be Christian to have proper values. Well no you don’t.

      And what we see in the Catholic Church’s policies with condoms etc etc etc is that core human values are being compromised by Catholic dogma.

      Lets all agree that what matters is the core human values – then what each of us believe really doesn’t matter.

    3. Meg Howarth says:

      I share your excellently expressed view, PallMall. The best on this blog.

      Moderators: would you please update us about the return of our thumbs. We don’t all/always have the time to respond in detail to every posting. Disappointed, irritated in truth, to be told when I called C4 (again) on Friday evening that ‘there is no-one you can speak to’ about the matter, and that I must fill in the comment form.

  24. philomena says:

    I agree with Joanna Jay- not all priests are child abusers and if we believe statistics that one in four children are abused I think that the whole outcry against priests is deflecting from the real problem in society that a lot of child abuse takes place within the family and extended family. But just to make it clear I am not defending paedophile priests and recognise that wrongs have been committed against children. However priests make up a very small percentage of society. Just a sobering thought.

    1. anniexf says:

      Philomena, as I pointed out to Joanna, the percentage of paedophiles as a proportion of the priesthood is far higher than the percentage of paedophiles within society as a whole. THAT is what is so horrifying. Why does the priesthood specifically appeal to such men? Is it because they would never want, or be capable of, an adult heterosexual relationship, so the celibacy aspect, which suggests self-control, isn’t in fact of the least concern – they would be “celibate” anyway?
      Why can’t the Church develop more stringent psychological tests to determine whether a man has a true vocation, or really wants the position of priest in order to meet some less honourable personal need?

    2. Paul Begley says:

      Child abuse is completely abhorrent. However, the Catholic Church is not the only institution which has had problems – the most recent case in England related to a headmaster in an independent school, and the police comment made it clear that they felt there had been collusion and cover-up, just as in the Church.

      Our state provision for vulnerable children is now biaised against taking them into care, in part because of previous scandals in council-run orphanages and homes.

      Meanwhile, such research as has been done continues to suggest that for most abused children, the abuse occurs in or near the immediate family.

      I think that most people find child abuse so abhorrent that they can only bear to deal with it in situations where they can see it as an external threat to their community, rather than something that occurs within it. When confronted with the horror inside their own home/community/institution, fear and shame drive them to denial, cover-up and collusion.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Paul, on this one i totally agree with you.Child abuse is abhorrent from wherever it comes and in organisations that have control over children it is often difficult to bring it into the open. Those guilty need to be stopped from having any kind of authority over the lives of youngsters.
      It is not only institutions though where the problem occurs.It is in any kind of closed community.
      I remember many years ago in the Police speaking to a female officer in the rural mining communities i policed.When i asked her how she liked it, she said she hated it as all she dealt with were women and incest.Up until then i had no idea that such abuse went on in a modern society,and it was kept very much under wraps which makes it more difficult to uncover.

    4. Paul Begley says:

      Another small divergence of view, Adrian:
      I’d certainly want to see the guilty punished provided the legal process does not inflict any extra harm on the victims, but my first priority would be to try to minimise the number of children who are abused, and the extent of that abuse.
      It looks as if no institution can give me an absolute guarantee that it can keep all children in its care safe. So what I would like to be able to assess is the relative risk for any choice made about who will be given the responsibilty.
      At the moment, despite a very large amount of media coverage of the issue, I don’t have any information which would allow me to make that judgement. I’ve heard about a great many disgraceful cases in Catholic-run institutions, but I’ve no idea of the scale of its involvement in caring for children. I suspect this is many times larger than any of the other institutions involved (comparing a global organisation with, for example, a local authority).
      So, does anyone have evidence (not opinions) that indicates the safest choices we can make, to protect children from abuse?

    5. adrian clarke says:

      Paul,you have asked the hardest question of the blog.How do we protect our children?Where is the safest place for them?As far as i see , and that goes from reading and a little personal experience,the unsafest place is within institutions or closed communities.There are less closed communities now that there are no longer ,mining/steel communities.Any institution , be it private schools , places of detention or children homes are a recipe for possible abuse,as we know are powerful religious communities.
      That makes the safest place , the family,but as reports show there is no guarantee there either and certainly not with the advent of new communication systems

  25. Joanna Jay says:

    I agree with Philomena for agreeing with me. Which just goes to show that at least two of us know what we’re talking about…!!!

    1. adrian clarke says:

      joanna please make that three

  26. phil dicks says:

    Is Britain 3rd World? Multiculturally, it’s very much space-age 1st World.

    HOWEVER: chewing-gum-on-the-pavements, charity-shops-on-the-high-street, semblance-of-anything-approximating-civic-pride… yes, he’s right!
    “Aggressive atheism”. Did you notice how hw said ‘atheism’? What he meant was good ole’ fashioned British agnosticism: don’t let those medieval monks on the Kirk-of-Northumberland (whatever) fool you; we never gave much-of-a-stuff for this religion thing.

    It’s not our atheism that’s the point -it’s that we can’t even be bothered to do atheism – it’s our baffled, totally British, slightly-smirking indifference that drives them pontiffs and Canterburys wild.

    And they’ve no-one to blame but themselves.

    1. Paul Begley says:

      It’s strange how that “Third World” quip seems to have really stung some people. Why? It can’t be that they feel people from the Third World are inferior to Britons – thankfully, we’ve grown out of that idea. Perhaps they actually still feel some shame about living in a country which tolerates high levels of poverty and deprivation, when it has the wealth to make a different set of choices?

  27. adrian clarke says:

    Philomena,of course yours and Joanna’s comments are correct.The difference is ,not all child abusers purport to be the moralists of society,or try to tell others how to run their lives.
    Priests and the leaders of religion wield unbelievable power over their brain washed flocks,and are to my mind much more dangerous individuals.

    1. Tom Wright says:

      This is completely illogical, you infer that being self-righteous is as big a crime as the actual child abuse.

      Given the amount of self-righteous comments we all make on this blog, I certainly hope not ;-)

  28. Jo Hill says:

    Whatever moans and groans are being aired, children are having a great time – check out the charming and funny questions they’d like to ask the Pope at http://www.kidsquizthepope.wordpress.com

    A real insight into the thoughts of children!

    What’s your favourite prayer?
    How much do you get paid?
    Do you enjoy being Pope?

  29. Jim Jenkins says:

    From across the pond…Cardinal Kasper’s gaffe was that he just let the rest on us in on the tone of the conversation(s) that go on all the time within the Vatican. This is how the Catholic hierarchy really think, how they really believe.

    The Vatican really thinks it is “rescuing” disgruntled Anglicans from “aggressive atheism.”

    Why don’t the Anglicans get into the religious political game and up the ante by inviting all Catholics who are disgruntled with their compromised, complicit and corrupt hierarchy to join in a new “Catholic” branch of the Anglican Church?

    1. Paul Begley says:

      Jim,

      If people are going to take offence at Cardinal Kaspar’s comments, don’t they also have to recognise that, for example, the story I quote above (second post) is pretty offensive? This records the outcome of a meeting in the UK Foreign Office (ie the people who are supposed to ensure we have good international relations) regarding the current Papal Visit to the UK.

      This is pretty much the same point I’ve trying to make since the discussion about “Koran Burning”. Let’s have one more try. If people really are committed to a pluralist, tolerant, democratic state, there are certain constraints that everyone has to accept:

      1/ they have to allow everyone (especially those they disapprove of) to have their say.
      2/ they have to make their arguments without abusing anyone, and object if anyone (especially on their own side) does.

      “Punch and Judy” is quite entertaining for half an hour when you’re 10 years’ old. But as a format to discuss religious differences, welfare provision, foreign policy, and the rest, is it the best choice?

  30. Ray Turner says:

    So Cardinal Kaspar is reported to have said Britain “sometimes feels like a third world country” and suffers from “a new aggressive atheism”.

    Well it sometimes feels like a third-world country to me too, and I certainly wouldn’t dispute the charge of Britain suffering from a new aggressive atheism.

    Cardinal Kaspar might actually be right. As always, the adverse reaction in the UK is only happening because the truth hurts…

    1. Joanna Jay says:

      Ain’t that the truth, Ray. Never fails…!

    2. adrian clarke says:

      I normally agree with you Ray but on this occasion i would have given you a thumbs down.
      As to the third world country , there are similarities .Go to any major city and look at the ethnic ghettos, the beggars on the street,and the ethnic violence.All caused by government multi culturism.
      As to atheism , i do not see it except for a few supposed celebrities like Fry ,Tatchell and Hawkins. They are clearly in a minority , proven by their lack of voice at this Papal visit.
      I think the right reaction has been to criticise the power of the church for its own ends as all churches do.I am afraid churches are the biggest obstacle to true faith.

  31. adrian clarke says:

    Jim it could be because some of us despise the churches that seek to promote their own views.They do so against so called christian principles of love and forgiveness.
    They seek to promote their own beliefs not faith.Human beings,with power.Not the belief in a greater power and a greater good.
    They are all at it , Muslims, catholics ,anglicans,etc
    Powerful organisations that exploit their followers for the good of their own church and religion.
    To me that is not faith or the exultation of a devine being.It is self agrandisment at the expense of the many.

    1. Tom Wright says:

      Adrian, your logic could equally be applied to political parties.

      For example, the Labour Party believes in Socialism. The Party Faithful believe it protects the workers and makes society Fair (and look at the mess we are in now). It turns out that a lot of Socialists (like Blair) earn copious amounts of money from it. Others like Arthur Scargill declare themselves President for Life, and are still residing in luxurious Union grace and favour accommodation.

      The Tory Party espouses Capitalism which their Party Faithful believe promotes fair competition, free trade, the Belief that Capitalism creates wealth and opportunity for all. Yet, the bankers just seem to trouser public cash come what may.

      People choose to organise themselves around their beliefs, and they have a fundamental right to do so, religious or otherwise. Its called Freedom.

  32. JCP says:
  33. Philippa says:

    If one wishes to know God, the last place to look is in the Roman Catholick Church. This Pope resides over a corrupt money making business that is founded on a lie.

    1. phil dicks says:

      Philippa – Maximum Thumbs-Up.

  34. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    The Pope is a no different to you and I, a person doing a job of work for the spiritual values of the masses.You can’t preach teach morals when you aid and albeit protection of paedophiles who commit the most henious crime on earth. He is not above the law be it man made or God’s law. He has taken the stance I believe based on the fact Christians have to strieve to see things from the perspective love the sinner hate the crime. What isn’t acceptable is that corruption took place in the interest of the perputrators of the crime not in the best interest of the children, which is unforgiveable. Everyone of the perputrators should be brought to trial in order each individual perputrator of these crimes is exposed and they be judged accordinly. In my world I would never never never never never allow a paedophile abusers out of prison to live in our communities, the law does not give harsh enough sentences, it should be life.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      i would if i could give you a thumbs up

  35. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    As a child I knew others suffering sexual abuse, in fact there was a time I gave myself up to being sexually abused in order to spare the youngest child of this particular family. As children never once did any of us who were being sexually abused behave in an inappropiate way towards each other. We respected each others suffering through which we were able lean on each other for support. The pain anguish and suffering no human being can begin to imagine,it’s a pain on-going that never leaves you, our lives were wrecked our innocence stolen. I was an impressionable teen like all teens are today believing what I read about freelove lead me to believe what had happend to me was ok when it wasn’t. A sect use to meet in my parents hotel, one evening I took up the tray of tea and biscuits which I would leave outside on the floor to be retrieved as and when by whoever inside. A man I knew to be a teacher was stood outside in a state of partial undress, he looked startled. Leaning down he put his finger to his lips “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, we’ll keep this as our secret.” Little did he know it was the worse thing he could have done. Teach your child it’s wrong to have secret

  36. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    Forgive me for not being as brave as some this subject creases me up, it makes me cry as since the head injury which brought back the memories I didn’t want to recall. Anyone aiding and albeiting the cover up of child sexual abuse stick’s the knife into the gapping wound and twists it. This is how it feels, adding more pain grief and humilliation by brushing it under the carpet in the hope it will all go away. It doesn’t go away, to quote a male survivour “We are the walking dead, there is no getting better for us. Oh we have our good day’s when we put on a brave face for the world, but it ends there, this stuff never leaves you, it permeates spoils mares every living moment.” The human rights of the child must come first and all perputrators should be made to stand trial to face charges. Amen

  37. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Learning about ethics and morals gives us a base on which to improve civilisation.

    Wordsworth said ” One impulse from a vernal wood,Can teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can.”

    This wise man did not comment on the piety of life, he did not say what was good or bad . What he actually asked us to consider was fundamental reponses to nature and survival and all that is entailed in human life.

    We protect our perceptions of good vehemently and we cope with our desires, tweeking the things which are socially unacceptable, those things regarded as crimes and fight to reduce suffering especially when it confronts us.

    Bronwen, I, in the main agree with you “sinner hate the crime” BUT again in line with you, people should take personal responsibilty for what they do.This is so hard when woman/ man is brought up according to and influenced by his social environment.

    The ‘big church’ needs to be an example in this respect. In his visit I am pleased that the Pope spoke out firmly against the abuse and enjoyed the televised pilgrimage.

  38. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    I was a baby when it all began though my mother didn’t know at the time what was causing my problems who would have dared to imagine such evil to happen to a baby, besides in those days you didn’t hear of such things happening, now its becoming a daily occurence to read about it in the news reported as they would a burglary or theft. The law slaps there wrists and allows them their freedom it is treated lightly because society allows it. How can any Christian or sane human being allow such people back into our communities? It leaves me gasping for breath. Hello world, yes you people who read all about it, your part of this society who think’s not in my backyard. Wake up to the reality if society allows paedophiles back amongest us it will continue giving no deterrent to other would be offenders. Then we have those thinkers who say they paid there price, I say No they haven’t there is no price big enough a punishment for the defiling of a child. Lock them up on for life to keep our children and families safe from there evil manipulating inflences. Amen

    1. margaret brandreth- jones says:

      What is worrying in sexual perversion such as paedophilia are that historical cases may be innacurate.This is in no way to suggest that your life changing cruel experiences did not happen Bronwen. A distrust in man must have featured strongly throughout your life.

      As a kid I remember giggles and suggestions of touching of young kids by priests at the local RC church. It was almost as though it was accepted. No one asked any more. These priests were the well loved ones.

      I was a pure little Anglican as a kid , who used to actually break bread and drink water in a chalice-like glass at home, in my parents kitchen: a strange little ritual , but the purity of some of the theosophy had an impact which has stayed with me all my life, although I do not believe in the divine.

      I was rebellious in my precepts of how a pure life should be led , although that changed with flower power.

      I also remember being confronted by a man who was sexually frustrated and exposed himself when I was 12 /13 on my way home from school. I wasn’t frightened, I could run quickly, but I was angry that he should think I was a target to be defiled.I told the police.Your experience must be 100 times worse.

    2. phil dicks says:

      Bronwen; your story is touching and demoralising.
      How do you feel about this unpopular Pope (Benedict), who, apparently, as Cardinal tried to unearth all this from 2001 (or so it goes – I don’t know), whereas the Elvis-Pope(JPS2) didn’t really seem to notice these things? Am I right? What’s your perspective?

  39. adz says:

    Just by the number of comments one can see how deep rooted a subject religion is.
    The Vatican is way too powerful!
    Everybody should be free to beleive what they want but the Vatican can’t have the powers of a super nation. That is just wrong!
    Priests who are paedophiles should be sent to prison and stipped of their priesthood immediately and forever. They would then spend their time in solitary confinement because we all know what happens to child molestors in prison.
    This german cardinal is just another example of how strong the RC church has become.
    adzmundo TVP

    1. adrian clarke says:

      total utter thumbs up adz.You hit the nail on the head with perfection.
      “The Vatican is too powerful”
      It is the smallest state on Earth,so why does its leader have so much power?Why does he justify a state visit? Why should he and his cohorts presume to come to a foreign country and tell us how to run our lives.I thought in diplomatic terms that was the height of rudeness.
      Why should he seek to attract Anglicans who despise the fact that women begin to have some power in the Church.Why should he be allowed to promote homophobia.
      We are supposed to live in a world where faith means love and forgiveness.He lives in a world where man is supposedly supreme.He lives in a world alongside other reigious leaders , that should be destroyed.

      2

    2. adz says:

      Thankyou Adrian and you also hit it right on the head with regards to homophobia and Ratz telling us how to live our lives.
      adzmundo TVP

  40. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    Many survivors commit suicide because they can’t carry the burden of pain of there memories. What really made me kick off so to speak was when I learned these children were brain-washed/counselled into believing somehow they were complicit in the crimes against them. As my father pointed out there was a time when men and women would feel protective toward a child or young adult knowing the evil that lurks in our society, they would not dream of compromising a young person because they are young vulnerable naieve and need protecting. Whilst I accept young teens lie about there age in order to appear all grown up or get into nightclubs, you have to ask where are the parents in all of this.

  41. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    Sexual abuse in childhood can create homosexuality and bisexuality. It is the case the stronger older person can lead children into doing anything because children naturally want to please, to be liked. To put the responsibility of to have sex or not onto children is nothing short of outrageous simply because they are naieve and don’t have the perception or experience an adult has to know what is good or bad for them. Young people are impressionable, in our world today there is a saturation of sex and violence both through music films media pornography. Time the adult world took responsibility for there actions. I would ban pornography which serves to encourage human trafficking, slavery, prostitution & child sexual abuse. Next you will have paedophiles claiming there human rights,yet no paedophile give a thought to the human rights of the child.

    1. margaret brandreth- jones says:

      I too feel as strongly as you about pornography, violence and perverted sexual behaviour many would call normal.

      As a child in an abusive situation, the young are led to believe that this sort of behaviour is normal, as it is frequently the people they love who abuse them. Then as they grow older they find out that in fact this is not acceptable behaviour.That transition in perception must shock irrevocably even if physical harm is not apparent.

      I am concerned about all sexual abuse though ,where men, women and children are abused and increasing exposure to horrific sexual images becomes the accepted.

      I was not believed when I reported a serious sexual crime. The response from the police was you need to see a doctor. The crime itself was an assault which angers me, but the way the authorities handled it is far worse than the crimes committed against me.

      God help those who are in a continual situation of sexual abuse.

  42. Joanna Jay says:

    Very good question – phil dicks…!!!

    Frankly, I reckon Pope benedict is a much better dude than everyone gave him credit for. Certainly better than that all things to all men super-celeb – PopeJPS2…!!!

  43. adrian clarke says:

    At last my “egg heads “is back and i do not have to sit watching a blank television screen , because i refuse to watch the Pope

  44. Bronwen Irene Williams says:

    People rightly so stopped at nothing to get justice for the Holocaust survivours as they did with Saddam Hussien. Religiosity is no excuse to prevent justice been served to victims of childhood sexual abuse. Paedophiles actively seek to get into positions of trust in order to wield ther influence & administer to there need’s behind a mask of decency. The more powerful the status the more clout in the cover up stakes. What is sickening those who sympathise with them aid & albeit there vile deed’s. Regardless of status paedophiles should be brought to justice as you would do with any other serious crime. You get more time for fraud embezilement than you would for what I consider one of the worst atrocities against a child on earth.

  45. Joanna Jay says:

    Sexual abuse of children is not unique to Catholic priests. Far from it. It’s down almost every street, in every village and town – rampant from one end of Europe to the other. Practised not just by men, but women too – and in schools, on Scouts and among Guides, even the tiny charges left to the care of toddler creche’ leaders.

    But we don’t pillory schools in general, do we…? Or the Scout movement, or child minders, per se…?? So what is it that riles up so very many people, so uniquely – at the drop of any convenient ‘hat’ – against Catholics…? Against The Pope…??

    Is it blind hatred…??? Most of them, certainly, are ‘blinkered.’

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