Raping children is not too serious a crime according to the pope.

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Pope quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy

Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question.

One case has come back to haunt him: An Italian priest who received the pope’s clemency was later convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against children as young as 12. The Rev. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him, The Associated Press has learned.

The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be defrocked, two canon lawyers and a church official told AP. Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry.

In some cases, the priests or their high-ranking friends appealed to Francis for clemency by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions, the church official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

“With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives,” the church official said, adding that clemency petitions were rarely granted by Pope Benedict XVI, who launched a tough crackdown during his 2005-2013 papacy and defrocked some 800 priests who raped and molested children.

At the same time, Francis also ordered three longtime staffers at the congregation dismissed, two of whom worked for the discipline section that handles sex abuse cases, the lawyers and church official said.

One is the head of the section and will be replaced before leaving March 31. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the others too will be replaced and that staffing in the office, which has a yearslong backlog of cases, would be strengthened after Francis recently approved hiring more officials.

“The speed with which cases are handled is a serious matter and the Holy Father continues to encourage improvements in this area,” Burke told AP.

He also dispelled rumors that sex-abuse cases would no longer be handled by the congregation, saying the strengthened office would handle all cases submitted.

Burke said Francis’ emphasis on mercy applied to “even those who are guilty of heinous crimes.” He said priests who abuse are permanently removed from ministry, but are not necessarily dismissed from the clerical state, the church term for laicization or defrocking.

“The Holy Father understands that many victims and survivors can find any sign of mercy in this area difficult,” Burke said. “But he knows that the Gospel message of mercy is ultimately a source of powerful healing and of grace.”

St. John Paul II was long criticized for failing to respond to the abuse crisis, but ultimately he said in 2002 that “there is no place in the priesthood or religious life” for anyone who would harm the young. Francis has repeatedly proclaimed “zero tolerance” for abusive priests and in December wrote to the world’s bishops committing to take “all necessary measures” to protect them.

But he also recently said he believed sex abusers suffer from a “disease” — a medical term used by defense lawyers to seek mitigating factors in canonical sentences.

Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor and founding member of Francis’ sex-abuse advisory commission, expressed dismay that the congregation’s recommended penalties were being weakened and said abusers are never so sick that they don’t know what they’re doing.

“All who abuse have made a conscious decision to do so,” Collins told AP. “Even those who are pedophiles, experts will tell you, are still responsible for their actions. They can resist their inclinations.”

Victim advocates have long questioned Francis’ commitment to continuing Benedict’s tough line, given he had no experience dealing with abusive priests or their victims in his native Argentina. While Francis counts Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley as his top adviser on abuse, he has also surrounded himself with cardinal advisers who botched handling abuse cases in their archdioceses.

“They are not having zero tolerance,” said Rocio Figueroa, a former Vatican official and ex-member of the Peru-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a conservative Catholic lay society rocked by sex scandals. The Vatican recently handed down sanctions against the group’s founder after determining that he sexually, psychologically and physically abused his recruits. His victims, however, are enraged that it took the Vatican six years to decide that the founder should be isolated, but not expelled, from the community.

The church official stressed that to his knowledge, none of Francis’ reduced sentences had put children at risk.

Many canon lawyers and church authorities argue that defrocking pedophiles can put society at greater risk because the church no longer exerts any control over them. They argue that keeping the men in restricted ministry, away from children, at least enables superiors to exert some degree of supervision.

But Collins said the church must also take into account the message that reduced canonical sentences sends to both survivors and abusers.

“While mercy is important, justice for all parties is equally important,” Collins said in an email. “If there is seen to be any weakness about proper penalties, then it might well send the wrong message to those who would abuse.”

It can also come back to embarrass the church. Take for example the case of Inzoli, a well-connected Italian priest who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2012 of abusing young boys and ordered defrocked.

Inzoli appealed and in 2014 Francis reduced the penalty to a lifetime of prayer, prohibiting him from celebrating Mass in public or being near children, barring him from his diocese and ordering five years of psychotherapy.

In a statement announcing Francis’ decision to reduce the sentence, Crema Bishop Oscar Cantoni said “no misery is so profound, no sin so terrible that mercy cannot be applied.”

In November, an Italian criminal judge showed little mercy in convicting Inzoli of abusing five children, aged 12-16, and sentencing him to four years, nine months in prison. The judge said Inzoli had a number of other victims but their cases fell outside the statute of limitations.

Burke disclosed to AP that the Vatican recently initiated a new canonical trial against Inzoli based on “new elements” that had come to light. He declined to elaborate.

Amid questions about how the battle against abuse was faring, Francis recently named O’Malley, who heads his sex-abuse advisory commission, as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But it’s not clear what influence he can wield from his home base in Boston.

Francis scrapped the commission’s proposed tribunal for bishops who botch abuse cases following legal objections from the congregation. The commission’s other major initiative — a guideline template to help dioceses develop policies to fight abuse and safeguard children — is gathering dust. The Vatican never sent the template to bishops’ conferences, as the commission had sought, or even linked it to its main abuse-resource website.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at http://www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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8 thoughts on “Raping children is not too serious a crime according to the pope.

  1. McBrolloks, jy kan seker die geveg wat ons met die kreasionis, Martin Bredenkamp op die blog “Prometheusongebonde” gehad het. Nogal ‘n PhD in Chemie verbonde aan die Universitiet van Stellenbosch daardie tyd. Laasgenoemde het hom gelukkig uitgeskop toe hulle agterkom hy is ‘n wolf in skaapklere. Hy het toe verkas, as ek reg kan onthou, na die Ooste waar hy seker sy stront voortgesit het. (Gelukkig is diè mense alles behalwe Bible-thumpers so hy het seker maar ‘n moeilike tyd.)

    In elk geval, ek lees gereeld ‘n baie interessante blog (verwysing hier onder) en kom toe toevallig op sy edele Martin Bredenkamp af. Hier probeer hy weer “bewys” dat evolusie nonsense is en dat Liewe Jesus alles gemaak het. Die antwoord op sy relaas is so treffend, ek moet dit meedeel.

    Net ‘n kort uittreksel:

    “PDH [pyruvate dehydrogenase] probably arose from a series of enzymes required for synthesizing branched chain amino acids. This is explained in most biochemistry textbooks but I understand why you don’t know this. It’s because creationists never read science textbooks—they prefer to just make things up.”

    Nodeloos om te sê ou Martin het die aftog geblaas sonder om weer daar te post.

    http://sandwalk.blogspot.co.za/2007/04/structure-of-pyruvate-dehydrogenase.html

    Like

  2. Ek is seker as ou Martin sy verskyning op McBrolloks gaan maak, jy hom met die “Poepol van die week” titel sal bekroon.

    Kom nou, Kletterkoppie, kyk of jy jou bloedbroer kan opspoor en nooi hom uit na McBrolloks.

    Like

  3. Wat ek lees in Koel diek se geaparafiseer op godsdiens is dat lyk my die akademiese stand of prestasie nie jou “wereld beskouing” bepaal nie, of jy nou slim of dom of blind is die “wêreld beskouing” hang af van jou metafisiese posisie

    En die metafisiese posisie hang af van wat jy maak van waaroor gaan die heelal die lewe en alles, nou as ek kyk na atijoote dan wys hulle my dat hulle geloof het in die ander wetenskaplikes wat al die dinge gaan ontrafel en dat die ander gelowe wat nie deur die wetenskap kan bewys word nie aangeval en bespot moet word

    Soos Koel Diek skryf dat hy is trots op sy “wereld beskouing” en wat is “trots”? torts, trots is ‘n ego “enhancer”, dis hoekom hy nou die aanhaling gekopie en pyst het van die “interessante” blog wat hy nou gereeld besoek, hy wil ook seker bietjie “brag” oor sy akademiese stand en probeer voorgee dat hy “beyond” ander mense se intelligensie is, as hy dit kan verstaan hoe is dit moontlik dat hy geen idee het van wat ek van praat nie, hy verwys daarna as snert. Hy kan nie sê hoekom nie, want hy weet nie

    En nou is die Martin ‘n “bloedbroer”, dan moet “passievol” Mad Mac seker ook ‘n bloedbroer wees van al die ander atijoote wat nou almal terug grot toe is, julle behoort mos aan dieselfde kerk

    En ons wag nog vir die opvolg van die “kersie vir atijoote” wat blykbaar al in 2013 uit moes gewees het of het hy uitgehardloop uit aanhalings van ander wetenskaplikes, soos dink vir jouself en daai ander woord kritiese analise.

    Zzzzzz

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  4. En soos die dae verby gaan
    en die water onderdeur vloei
    sit die atijoote in hul grotte bietjie bang om iets te sê
    al die trieks wat hulle al van gehoor het is uit gespeel
    en hul voorgee is ontbloot
    in hul verbeelding het hulle ‘n huis gebou
    vol wyshede oral opgetel
    in hul gedagte wêreld staan hulle sterk
    vol dogma’s en wapentuig
    maar binne in is dit ook maar onseker
    gaan die “wall” hou
    gaan die “wall” verkrummel
    smurk dit af as tabak en staan sterk
    onkunde is bliss
    maar die illusie van kennis dra ook maar swaar
    Zzzzzz

    Like

  5. Ek sien nou dit ateïste nou ook ‘n “Republiek van Ateïsme” geskep het met hulle eie ken teken wat bestaan uit ‘n beeld van ‘n leeu wat op sy agterpote staan en aan die ander kant staan daar ‘n bok ook op sy agterpote en tussen die 2 is daar ‘n sirkel.

    Nou ek is nie seker wat al die simbole beteken nie, maar leeu verteenwoordig altyd “sterk” dink ek en die bok seker voedsel voorsiening of prooi, ek weet nie wat was die ateïste se idee nie, maar tussen die 2 diere is daar nou die sirkel met niks in nie, sover ek weet kan ‘n sirkel se grootste eienskap gesien word as “oneindig” en omdat die sirkel leeg is kan dit dalk beteken dat die ateïste vir ewig om en om leeg gaan wees en dis nogal vir my sinvol. ‘n Nul op ‘n kontrak as dit kom by die metafisiese en hulle is nou so geïndoktrineer dat hulle trots is daarop . . ?

    Nou kom hulle ook bymekaar van verskillende lande om seker die voortplanting simulasie dryfveer oor grense te toets, die leeu en die prooi

    Nou die atijoote op die blad wat in hul grotte sit en pasifiseer op godsdiens sal niks van die Republiek weet nie, want hulle slaap

    Zzzzz

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  6. Ek was toe verkeerd met die simbool v/d Republiek van ateïsme aan die een kant is ‘n leeu, maar aan die anderkant is ‘n perd wat ook so regop staan op sy agter pote, 2 baei sterk simbole want krag en spoed (ek veornderstel die perd is daar om weg te hardloop soos jull weet wie)
    ek het toe die republiek van ateïsme so paar vrae begin vra en dit was baie gou duidelik dat hulle al dieselfde ou tegnieke gebruik om hul geloof te beskerm ek kon net sowel met julle gepraat het, dis ‘n karbin kopie van alles wat julle te sê het. blinde molle

    Ek gaan soek toe na wat google te sê het oor die geloofsprong en kom toe af op die stukke inligting wat baie interessant is

    Like Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, who plays an important role in the spiritual struggle for meaning on the part of the modern writer, cast off the bondage of logic and the tyranny of science. By means of the dialectic of “the leap,” he attempted to transcend both the aesthetic and the ethical stages. Completely alone, cut off from his fellow-men, the individual realizes his own nothingness as the preliminary condition for embracing the truth of God. Only when man becomes aware of his own non-entity — an experience that is purely subjective and incommunicable — does he recover his real self and stand in the presence of God. This is the mystique which has been rediscovered by twentieth-century man, the leap from outwardness to inwardness, from rationalism to subjectivity, the revelation, that is ineffable, of the reality of the Absolute.

    Maar nou ja julle moet nou maar lekker verder slaap zzzzzz

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  7. Johannie

    Waarvan praat jy tog? Jy sal my op hoogte moet hou. Na watse “Republiek van ateismre” jy.

    Lekker dag.

    NS. Kan jy nou darem jou spook bewys?

    Like

    • Ja hulle is op BB (bakiesblad/fb) – Atheist republic – en hulle is besig om mense se vrae te beantwoord, maar ek dink hulle wil eintlik netnaaioorgrense heen, hulle is self stjoepiter as julle

      Like

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