PopeWatch: Predator Priests

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Michael Brendan Dougherty has a fascinating post at The Week indicating that Pope Francis may be in the process of undoing the get tough reforms of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in regard to predator priests:


Two people with direct ties to the Vatican tell me that Pope Francis, following the advice of his clubby group of allies in the curia, is pressing to undo the reforms that were instituted by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI in handling the cases of abuser priests. Francis is pushing ahead with this plan even though the curial officials and cardinals who favor it have already brought more scandal to his papacy by urging him toward lenient treatment of abusers.


Recently, Pope Francis had the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, request an opinion from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, led by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, regarding the possibility of transferring competence to deal with abuser priests from the CDF back to Clergy and the Rota. Coccopalmerio’s office responded with a positive answer.


Francis was elected in part to reform a dysfunctional curia. So shifting responsibilities is not troubling in itself. And it is hard not to credit the sincerity of his jeremiads against child abusers. But the CDF’s performance on this issue is miles better than the situation before 2001.

So why revert?

Perhaps because the CDF has taken a tough, rules-based approach to the issue of child abuse, which clashes with the more personal autocratic style of this pope. Or perhaps because reforming the reform would reward his allies, and humiliate an antagonist.

Rumors of this reform have been circulating in Rome for months. And not happily. Pope Francis and his cardinal allies have been known to interfere with CDF’s judgments on abuse cases. This intervention has become so endemic to the system that cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is “with cardinal friends” or “without cardinal friends.”

And indeed, Pope Francis is apparently pressing ahead with his reversion of abuse practices even though the cardinals who are favorable to this reform of reform have already brought him trouble because of their friends.

Consider the case of Fr. Mauro Inzoli. Inzoli lived in a flamboyant fashion and had such a taste for flashy cars that he earned the nickname “Don Mercedes.” He was also accused of molesting children. He allegedly abused minors in the confessional. He even went so far as to teach children that sexual contact with him was legitimated by scripture and their faith. When his case reached CDF, he was found guilty. And in 2012, under the papacy of Pope Benedict, Inzoli was defrocked.

But Don Mercedes was “with cardinal friends,” we have learned. Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, now dean of the Roman Rota, both intervened on behalf of Inzoli, and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to a “a life of humility and prayer.” These strictures seem not to have troubled Inzoli too much. In January 2015, Don Mercedes participated in a conference on the family in Lombardy.

This summer, civil authorities finished their own trial of Inzoli, convicting him of eight offenses. Another 15 lay beyond the statute of limitations. The Italian press hammered the Vatican, specifically the CDF, for not sharing the information they had found in their canonical trial with civil authorities. Of course, the pope himself could have allowed the CDF to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired.

Go here to read the rest.  Coming from Illinois this is all drearily familiar.  As in Chicago, in this Pontificate the question in regard to alleged predator priests is not guilt or innocence but who they know.  Despicable.

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  1. The CDF is an odd place to locate supervision of abuse cases. If you had a personnel problem in the Rota, you should have replaced the personnel.

    I think it was Ralph McInerney (contrasting Cdl. McIntyre with auxilliary bishop James Shannon of Minneapolis) who offered that the Church in America was as clericalist after 1966 as before 1966, but before, it was prelates holding each other to a higher standard and after it was prelates holding each other to a lower standard. I don’t doubt Francis is at home with the latter regime. I’ve had the impression from the beginning that abuse investigations were just tools for him to injure intramural adversaries.

    In truth, though, the Holy See can set standards in canon law and adjudicate a few appeals. It cannot create a salutary disciplinary regime. Only the local ordinary can do that. Rod Dreher and Joseph d’Hippolito used to talk as if the Church was or could be as disciplined as the Navy. The Holy See has never had the manpower to supervise and audit the world’s dioceses bar in the most cursory or episodic way.

  2. Every person must pay for his own sins. Enablers must also pay as collaborators. Having excommunicated himself, when he consented to abuse a minor child, the priest is excommunicated. Returning the abusive priest to ministry within the church, the Vatican now becomes responsible and liable for any abuse the criminal, outlaw might commit.
    That Pope Francis might consider the innocence and protecting the innocence of a minor person less important than pandering to a not so repentant priest violates JUSTICE. “What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. What you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The excommunication of the criminal, outlaw, abuser priest is bound in heaven and on earth forever. Or does Pope Francis believe that Jesus was wasting His breath?

  3. Art Deco: Pope Francis cannot return an abusive priest to ministry without the free will consent of the abusive priest. The free will consent of the abusive priest must be exorcised from Satan. Engaging Satan to protect our innocent minor children is insane and diabolical. Look what the devil did to Adam and Eve. The Vatican has absolute power over its members through excommunication, that is through confirming the self-excommunication of the abuser priest.

  4. “Fr. Mauro Inzoli”
    “Fr. Mauro Inzoli”
    “Fr. Mauro Inzoli” It’s Don Inzoli, he is not a regular.

  5. If the Pope doesn’t solve the abuse problem, and this cancer goes on and on, there will come a day when the world will solve this problem for him. The Vatican will be labelled as an international criminal organization.

  6. Some thought: When a sovereign person forfeits his relationship to the perfection of God in TRUTH and JUSTICE through sin or addiction, his sovereignty, that is, his discipline, over himself becomes disordered. When a murderer, in the first degree, does not expire with grief over his crime, his contrition is imperfect, almost wishful thinking. This imperfect contrition must be accounted for in any judgement to be made.
    When a child molester says he is sorry to get something he wants, the judge must be sure that the child molester has his own interests at heart and cares not for the common good through good will.
    The sovereign personhood of the addict and /or criminal is diminished according to the heinousness of his crime. Imperfect contrition can set him right with God in the Sacrament of Penance to some degree but not perfectly. The criminal’s lifelong penance is to repair his relationship with God. Addiction to sodomy is not a civil right but a criminal act.
    Any child abusing priest knows he ought to remove himself from ministry as surely as everyone knows. Assault and battery of an innocent minor child who has not the wits and informed consent to give is a crime and the criminal must repent.
    In the Bible if a man raped a virgin, he had to support her for the rest of his life. Child molesters must support their victims for the rest of their lives. Starting right now.

  7. If the Pope doesn’t solve the abuse problem, and this cancer goes on and on, there will come a day when the world will solve this problem for him. The Vatican will be labelled as an international criminal organization.

    The pope cannot solve the abuse problem, nor, pace Leon Podles, has it been the source of the abuse problem (bar what Francis is up to now). The abuse problem starts with pederast clergy (and, more infrequently, paedophile clergy), was aided and abetted by laymen who wouldn’t talk (until 30 years after the fact), and is aided and abetted by bishops who do nothing or bishops who put problem people back into the parish after a few months of sunshine and pinochle at St. Luke’s Institute. Lousy ordinaries with lousy chanceries are permissive, not generative. Syracuse had a high rate of accusation against its clergy, but no episcopal scandal. By dumb luck, it was spared serial offender of the Shanley-Geoghan-Grammond scale and, as a matter of policy, those credibly accused were taken out of parish ministry and put on ice.

  8. The herd of pigs infested by the demons Legion ran off a cliff and drowned themselves in the sea rather than be possessed by the devil. The snake in the Garden of Eden, on the other hand, embraced and entertained Satan and loved every minute of his possession. The snake is cursed.
    Individuals who embrace the devil are damned. People who hold their addictions and demonic possession to their breast are damned. Some people embrace evil and glory in their downfall.
    Priests who hold that assaulting and battering minor children through sodomy are innocent of assault, battery and inflicting evil on other sovereign persons, minor and adult, are dancing with the devil and need to be evicted from the Vatican. Pope Francis needs to tell them: “You are forgiven. Now, get out.”

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