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priest shuffling

Priest shuffling is the practice of Roman Catholic officials when a child-abusing priest is identified: the priest is sent to another parish, usually smaller and more remote. Of course, bishops should be reporting the abuse to the civil authorities, but apparently they believe protecting their church from scandal is more important than protecting children from abusers.

Catholic priest sex abuse cases have been receiving great public attention since the mid-1980s. Numerous lawsuits have been settled and a few priests sent to prison. The role of priest-shuffling bishops appears to have been systematic and Vatican-approved, yet no bishops have been criminally charged and convicted. The highest Monsignor Lynnranking Catholic official to have been found guilty in a sex abuse case is Monsignor William Lynn, who served as secretary of the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1994 to 2001. Lynn was found guilty of one charge of child endangerment. [Lynn has been sentenced to three to six years in prison for his role--in the words of Judge M Teresa Sarmina--in enabling "monsters in clerical garb... to destroy the souls of children." [A Pennsylvania appeals court overturned Lynn's criminal conviction after he spent 18 months in prison. The court rejected the legal basis for a prosecution. The reversal turned on disputed interpretations of Pennsylvania’s former child welfare law. Lynn was not released from prison, but is now {12/26/2013} eligible to apply for bail.]

The response of the Vatican to these ongoing scandals seems to have been that first and foremost the Church has a public relations problem, not a human relations problem. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller to the position of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Müller is now the Vatican's child abuse watchdog. Müller was a priest shuffler when serving as a bishop in Germany. He's from Regensburg, Germany, where Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI) taught theology before being made bishop of Munich. According to Concordat Watch, bishop Müller got a court order Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müllerstopping the German magazine Der Spiegel from publishing a story about clerical abuse in Germany. Müller didn’t want to prosecute a priest who abused children in his diocese, and he sued the journalist who called the payments to victims “hush money.” One wonders what the Vatican is thinking by appointing a priest shuffler and abuser protector to the position of abuse watchdog.

We now know what the Vatican was thinking by appointing a priest shuffler and abuser protector to the position of abuse watchdog: Pope Benedict XVI was a priest shuffler himself when he was archbishop of Munich. Later, Ratzinger became head of what used to be called The Inquisition. A Wikipedia article on Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states:

As part of the implementation of the norms enacted and promulgated on April 30, 2001 by Pope John Paul II, on May 18, 2001 Ratzinger sent a letter to every bishop in the Catholic Church. This letter reminded them of the strict penalties facing those who revealed confidential details concerning enquiries into allegations against priests of certain grave ecclesiastical crimes, including sexual abuse, which were reserved to the jurisdiction of the Congregation. The letter extended the prescription or statute of limitations for these crimes to ten years. However, when the crime is sexual abuse of a minor, the "prescription begins to run from the day on that which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age."

Marcial Maciel DegolladoThe so-called Code of Silence included the protection of one of the most notorious and evil priests to be included in the inner sanctum of the Vatican's upper echelon: Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. He was a great fund raiser and poured money into the pockets of high church officials. He was also a sexual predator (preying on young children and juvenile seminarians), morphine addict, and philanderer (he fathered several children--perhaps six--by two women and was accused of sexually abusing his own children). He was protected by Pope John Paul II but in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI removed Maciel from active ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his days in prayer and penance.

In 1997, a group of nine men went public with accusations that they were abused by Maciel while studying under him in Spain and Rome in the 1940s and 1950s. They described how he would feign to have an illness in his groin and had been given papal permission to receive help massaging out the pain. The group, which included respectable academics and former priests, lodged formal charges at the Vatican in 1998, but were told the following year that the case had been shelved by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.*

While it is true that Ratzinger, as Pope, removed Maciel from active ministry, it is also true that Maciel moved from Rome to Jacksonville, Florida, where he lived in a house he shared with other priests until his death in 2008. No notification to the world of the evil that was done was made by the Catholic Church and no recognition of the wrong done to those abused by Maciel has ever been made. The Code of Silence was kept. It would still be kept, I suppose, had it not been for the victims who have spoken up, a few lawyers and judges, and the worldwide press. The abuse of children by Catholic priests and the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy has been worldwide and has been going on for centuries.

further reading

Roman Catholic sex abuse cases by country

Predator Priests Shuffled Around Globe "In an investigation spanning 21 countries across six continents, The Associated Press found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse who were transferred or moved abroad. Some escaped police investigations. Many had access to children in another country, and some abused again."

More Evidence of Abusive Priest Shuffling Emerges "Nearly 10,000 pages of previously sealed Catholic church documents have been made public and showed that the Diocese of San Diego long knew about abusive priests, some of whom were shuffled from parish to parish despite credible complaints against them.

...The records are from the personnel files of 48 priests who were either credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse or were named in a civil lawsuit. They include a decades-old case in which a priest under police investigation was allowed to leave the U.S. after the diocese intervened.

...The files show what the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders moved priests around or overseas despite credible complaints against them."

BishopAccountability.org Documenting abuse by priests, cover-ups by bishops, and priest shuffling since 2003.

Nicola Roxon: Royal Commision into sex abuse in the Catholic Church and other NGOs Chrissie Foster (pictured with her husband Anthony) mother of Kate and Emma who both lost their lives as a result of repeated sexual assault at the hands of Catholic priest and convicted pedophile Kevin O’Donnell. O’Donnell sexually assaulted and raped children with the knowledge of the Catholic church from 1940 to 1995 when he was incarcerated. O’Donnell sexually assaulted hundreds, possibly thousands of children. He was never defrocked and buried with the honorific Pastor Emeritus, the equivalent of a Catholic OBE. There is not just 'a few bad apples'. There are thousands of them. Still abusing today. 

Catholic church releases sexual abuse files, relieves cardinal of duties The Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is releasing thousands of pages of personnel files relating to child molestation by priests, part of a 2007 civil court settlement.

Catholic priest blames children for sexual abuse Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a prominent Catholic priest says he believes “youngsters” are often to blame for sexual abuse by priests and that priests who are first time offenders should not be jailed for their crime.


Chicago Archdiocese Hid Decades of Child Sex Abuse Internal documents from the Archdiocese of Chicago, released through settlements between attorneys for the archdiocese and victims, describe how priests for decades were moved from parish to parish while the archdiocese hid the clerics' histories from the public, often with the approval of the late Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin. The documents raise new questions about how Cardinal Cardinal Francis George should hang his head in shame.Francis George handled the allegations even after the church adopted reforms. "George delayed removing the Rev. Joseph R. Bennett, despite learning that the priest had been accused of sexually abusing girls and boys decades earlier. Even the board the cardinal appointed to help him evaluate abuse claims advised George that Bennett should be removed."

Church to post more Los Angeles clergy docs after victims complain; more pages in dispute "The archdiocese [of Los Angeles] posted more than 120 confidential priest files online less than an hour after a Los Angeles judge ordered it to release the papers without redacting the names of members of the church hierarchy who made key decisions about how to handle priests accused of molestation. The files show [Archbishop] Mahony and other top church leaders shielded pedophile priests to protect the church and repeatedly failed to report child abuse to law enforcement despite clear knowledge of the crimes clergy members had committed." (emphasis added) "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said ... it would release additional documents from internal clergy abuse files after alleged victims complained that 12,000 pages released last week were missing critical memos and Michael Baker, pedophile priestcontained excessive redactions. The documents in question from the file of former priest Michael Baker span a 14 year-period — from 1986 to 2000 — and provide insight into how retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders dealt with him."

LAUSD knew ex-priest it hired had been accused of molestation "Officials at Los Angeles Unified School District knew that a former priest it hired as a community organizer had been accused of molestation but decided to keep him on the job, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Times. Both L.A. Unified administrators and school police discussed the accusations against Joseph Pina, and were aware in 2002 that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department was investigating Pina for alleged child molestation months after the district had hired him. Records indicate that school officials concluded that Pina should be removed from his job only if he were charged — or possibly convicted — of a crime. In the end, the Sheriff's Department dropped the Pina case because the alleged crime had passed the statute of limitations."


Last updated 21-Oct-2015

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