February 26, 2012

Cardinal Ordered Destruction of Memo On Predator Priests


 


I noted in a prior post how Ireland closed its embassy to the Vatican over anger and frustration with the Vatican's refusal to cooperate with civil authorities investigating the sexual abuse of children and youths by Catholic clergy. As CNN and thePhiladelphia Inquirer are reporting, the late Cardinal Anthony J.Bevilacqua - who very conveniently died before having to testify - ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of sexually abusing children. Needless to say, such actions if true immediately bring up issues such as obstruction of justice, interfering with police investigations and a number of other things for which the late cardinal should have been criminally prosecuted. Yet we see politicians and the media giving the equivalent of political and/or journalistic fellatio to the Catholic bishops. It's disgusting. First these highlights from thePhiladelphia Inquirer story:

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese's Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.
"It is beyond doubt that Msgr. Lynn was completely unaware of this act of obstruction," attorneys Jeffrey Lindy and Thomas Bergstromwrote.

Their motion asks Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to dismiss the conspiracy and endangerment charges against Lynn, or to bar prosecutors from introducing Bevilacqua's videotaped testimony at trial. The cardinal died Jan. 31.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he "felt it was the right thing to do."

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal's top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacquaallegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. "This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua," sayMolloy's handwritten notes. But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004,Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn. "I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up," he testified.

Lynn's lawyers also contend that Cistone, now the bishop of Saginaw, Mich., and Cullen, the retired bishop of Allentown, misled the grand jury by not acknowledging the memo or the cardinal's order to shred it. Neither responded Friday to messages left at their dioceses.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloydescribed reaching a point when "I couldn't be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing." So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions. "I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese's decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales," Molloy said then. "This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn't all written down."

The CNN coverage reports much of the same. However, these highlights are instructive:

As revealed in court papers filed on Friday, Molloy's handwritten memo dated March 22, 1994, informed Bevilacqua that the secret list of 35 priests had been shredded per his instructions.

"On 3-22-94 at 10:45 AM I shredded, in the presence of Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, four copies of these lists from the secret archives," Molloy's memo stated. "The action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua at the Issues meeting of 3-15-94 ...."

The grand jury also concluded that Lynn had carried out the cardinal's policies exactly as the cardinal directed.

"It should not be surprising to learn documents about child abusing priests were destroyed," said Marci Hamilton, an attorney who has represented victims in many clergy sex abuse cases, including suits against the Philadelphia archdiocese."That is consistent with the pervasive pattern of secrecy and the rule against scandal."

Given the utter moral bankruptcy of the Catholic bishops and the likely criminal actions of some of them, why does Barack Obama or any ethical politician even give them the time of day? I remain dumbfounded how anyone with a shred of moral decency can remain in the Catholic Church as more and more of the cesspool nature of the hierarchy comes to light.





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