|Pope Francis and his past marriage equality foe, former president |
of Argentina, Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner. Sex abuse by
Catholic clergy claims are exploding in Argentina.
Is it a coincidence that the Roman Catholic Church is increasing its anti-gay messaging in Australia and elsewhere and A diocese in Wisconsin is barring funerals for gays just as more damaging reports on clergy sex abuse are being released, including damaging reports from Pope Francis' own Argentina? Personally, I suspect not. Just like Donald Trump, members of the Church hierarchy are trying to distract the sheeple still in the pews from the reality that the Church remains a complete moral cesspool. Also of interest is the fact that many of the new instances of sexual abuse in Argentina occurred AFTER 2001 and after the sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston in early 2002. Hence, the effort to blame the worldwide scandal on Vatican II and liberal priests simply does not wash. The International Business Times reports on many damning details coming out that show that little has substantively changed in the Catholic Church. Here are highlights:
Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.
She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.
The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his "zero tolerance" pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.
Experts attribute the spike to a cultural shift as victims feel more emboldened to denounce abuse, prosecutors are more inclined to investigate complaints of even decades-old abuse, the media are increasingly aggressive about reporting them and courts are willing to hand down stiff sentences.
In the U.S., confidential files on hundreds of pedophile priests have been released either through civil litigation, settlements or court order. The contents have revealed that top church officials worked behind the scenes to control the sex abuse scandal and keep it from authorities as well as parishioners.
"What is really remarkable here is that the survivors in Argentina don't have the same powerful legal tools that we see in other countries," Barrett Doyle said. "And yet, we're still seeing the significant increase in cases."
The AP compiled a list of 66 priests, nuns and brothers who have been accused since 2001 of abusing dozens of people, most of them children.
"In Argentina, the abuse crisis is just beginning," said San Francisco Bishop Sergio Buenanueva in Cordoba province, who leads a church council on clerical abuse. "I'm sure the Argentine church is going to face increasing numbers of these disclosures."
Some of the accused remain in the ministry. In several cases, no canonical or judicial investigation was carried out. Some were probed and dismissed. Others, especially in recent years, have led to arrests and convictions.
Advocates of priestly abuse victims question how Francis could have been unaware of the allegations against Corradi since he was publicly named by the Italian victims starting in 2009 and most recently in 2014.
Francis has pledged "zero tolerance" for abuse, but he has also said he never had to confront the issue as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he served from 1998 to 2013. Recently, he has acknowledged that the church was "late" in recognizing the scale of abuse and the damage it wreaked on victims, and said the practice of cover-up and moving pedophiles around was to blame.
Many Argentine victims of abuse say they feel abandoned by the church. "You realize the complicity, the cover-up of the church hierarchy that goes all the way up to the Vatican," Anazco said.
It is helpful to remember that the Catholic Church in Argentina, including Pope Francis who was then a cardinal in Argentina, worked hysterically to block same sex marriage. Ultimately it was a speech made by the then president of Argentina, Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, addressed to the Argentine Senate which referenced the Church's ugly history, including the Inquisition, that tipped the scales and caused marriage equality to be enacted.