First Read

2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
2Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2Th 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
2Th 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Pope Benedict XVI greets faithful at the end of a meeting in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to celebrate the end of the Church's year of the priest, Thursday, June 10, 2010. Thousands of priest from around the world gathered in St. Peter's square in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI amid the clerical abuse scandal.

Pope begs forgiveness, promises action on abuse
June 11, 2010 9:03 AM EDT
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI begged forgiveness Friday from clerical abuse victims for the sins of priests and promised to "do everything possible" to ensure prelates don't rape or molest children ever again.

Benedict's pledge was similar to comments he has made over time in the past. But they were uttered in the highly symbolic setting of a Mass concelebrated by 15,000 priests in St. Peter's Square marking the end of the Vatican's Year of the Priest. The yearlong celebration of the clergy has been marred by revelations of hundreds of new cases of clerical abuse, cover-up and Vatican inaction to root out pedophiles.

In his homily, Benedict lamented that during what should have been a year of joy for the priesthood the "sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones."

"We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again," he said.

He said that in admitting men into the priesthood and in forming them as clergymen "we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the Lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations and amid life's dangers."

His comments were similar to those reported by the Vatican during his private meeting with abuse victims in Malta in April, during which the pontiff had tears in his eyes as he heard the stories of men who had been molested by priests as children.

And they echoed his comments last month en route to Portugal in which he acknowledged that the "sins from within the church" were responsible for the scandal, not some outside anti-Catholic lobby.

As such, Friday's comments were a public admission of the sins of priests, a request for forgiveness from their victims and God, and pledge to take action — all delivered before 15,000 priests from around the world who came to Rome for a show of support of the pontiff and the priesthood itself amid the scandal.

It is unclear if his comments, though, would satisfy demands from victims groups for a personal mea culpa followed up by a clear-cut plan of action to protect children.

Benedict's own legacy has been tarnished by the scandal, since he was archbishop of Munich in the 1980s when he approved therapy for a suspected pedophile who was allowed to resume pastoral duties while being treated. The priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, later was handed a suspended sentence for molesting a boy. In addition, Benedict's legacy at the Vatican office that dealt with sex abuse has come under scrutiny.

Benedict said the scandal had shown the need for a purification of the church, and a task which the church and its priests must carry on into the future.

"Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events," he said. "But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: We grew in gratitude for God's gift."


Ex-priest in Vatican pedophile case had Truckee ties

April 13, 2010

A defrocked Catholic priest now at the center of a Vatican pedophilia scandal is a former Truckee resident who in 2002 was investigated for possible connections to the 1988 disappearance of Amber Swartz -- for whom Amber Alerts are named -- and to the 1991 abduction of South Lake Tahoe resident Jaycee Lee Dugard.
In March 2002, police with cadaver dogs, backhoes and ground-penetrating sonar twice searched the Truckee vacation property of Stephen Kiesle and found nothing to connect him to the two young girls.
Those two cases have been closed and aren't related to the former priest, but in 2004, Kiesle pleaded no contest to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.
Kiesle's name was in the news this week after the Associated Press published a 1985 letter bearing the signature of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. The letter shows Ratzinger resisted defrocking Kiesle, who had a record of sexually molesting children, after his case was referred to the Vatican four years earlier.
A California diocese recommended removing Kiesle from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining priests. In his letter, the cardinal noted the arguments for removing Kiesle were of "grave significance" but added that such actions required careful review and more time. He also urged Kiesle's bishop to provide him with "as much paternal care as possible"
The AP described the letter as "the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office."
Records show Kiesle continued to do volunteer work with children through the church until he was officially defrocked in 1987. He then married and became a computer consultant, records show.
Now retired, he lives in a gated community in Walnut Creek, Calif., and could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Property records show Kiesle was living part-time in a house on Sun Valley Road in Truckee from 1983 to 2002, when more child molestation allegations surfaced. In news reports, the house was described as a "Swiss-style chalet."
"We lived two doors away from him, and I remember when (police) dug up the yard," said James Hatch of Truckee. "I didn't know him. I don't think any (neighbors were) close to him."
Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay Area church rectory. When his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood, and the diocese submitted a request to Rome to defrock him.
When Kiesle lived in Truckee, neighbors were unaware of his criminal record. The 1978 files had been sealed, and even if they had been public, there were no universally available registries of sex offenders until the mid-1990s.
In 2002, Kiesle was arrested and charged with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations in such cases.
Today, the California sex offender database shows Kiesle's Truckee-related conviction from 2004, but not the 1978 convictions while he was a priest.

April 12, 2010

Bishop Giacomo Babini blames Jews for attacks on Pope

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his Regina Coeli Prayer from his summer  residence in Castelgandolfo, Rome, Italy

(L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI

A retired Italian bishop has provoked fury by reportedly suggesting that “Zionists” are behind the current storm of accusations over clerical sex abuse shaking the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was “powerful and refined” in nature.

Bishop Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks. He was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which issued a declaration by Bishop Babini in which he said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Monsignor Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

Monsignor Babini’s reported comments follow a series of statements from senior Vatican cardinals blaming a “concerted campaign” by “powerful lobbies” for accusations that Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up cases of clerical abuse both as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982 and subsequently as head of doctrine at the Vatican.

None has explicitly blamed Jews or any other group. However Bishop Babini, 81, said Jews “do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies”. He added: “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers].”

He was quoted as saying that Hitler was “not just mad” but had exploited German anger over the excesses of German Jews who in the 1930s had throttled the German economy.

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said Monsignor Babini was using “slanderous stereotypes, which sadly evoke the worst Christian and Nazi propaganda prior to World War Two”.

Giovanni Maria Vian, the Editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said there was a media campaign against the Pope but suggestions that Jews were behind it were ridiculous.

Speaking to the foreign press corps in Rome, Mr Vian pointed out that L’Osservatore Romano had reprinted remarks made in the Jerusalem Post by Ed Koch, the Jewish former mayor of New York, in which he said that continuing attacks by the media on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI were “manifestations of anti-Catholicism”.

Mr Koch said that he disagreed with the Catholic Church on abortion, homosexuality, divorce and contraception. But the Church had a right to hold such beliefs, and “much of the attack on it today stems from opposition to those teachings”.

He added: “Many of those in the media who are pounding on the Church and the Pope today clearly do it with delight and some with malice.

“I believe the Roman Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, not evil. Enough is enough.

“Yes, terrible acts were committed by members of the Catholic clergy. The Church has paid billions to victims in the US and will pay millions, perhaps billions, more to other such victims around the world. It is trying desperately to atone for its past by its admissions and changes in procedures for dealing with paedophile priests.”

There were Jewish protests at Easter when Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, compared attacks on the Pope to the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism” in his Good Friday reflections before Pope Benedict in the Vatican.

The Vatican later said the Pope had not been aware in advance of Father Cantalamessa’s remarks, which did not represent the Vatican’s views.

Today Mr Vian said Father Cantalamessa’s observations had been innocent in intention, though whether it had been prudent to make them in the current climate was another matter.

Pope Benedict, who visited the Rome synagogue in January, has sought to mend Catholic-Jewish relations since last year, when he offended Jewish groups by rehabilitating Bishop Richard Williamson, an excommunicated ultra-conservative prelate who denies that six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

The Pope said he was unaware of Bishop Williamson’s views and demanded that he rescind them.

However, the pontiff has also angered Jewish leaders with his continuing support for the beatification of Pope Pius XII, the wartime Pope who is charged by critics with having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. Beatification is the step before sainthood.

On Friday Benedict watched a preview of a forthcoming programme to be shown by RAI, the state broadcaster, which praises Pius XII for his role in helping to save Jews behind the scenes in wartime Rome, and is said by aides to have expressed his approval.

April 10, 2010 10:04 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four years after a California priest and convicted child molester asked to be defrocked, his bishop pleaded with the future Pope Benedict XVI to remove the man from the priesthood. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger replied, urging caution.

"Consider the good of the Universal Church," Ratzinger wrote in a 1985 letter to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. "It is necessary for this Congregation to submit incidents of this sort to very careful consideration, which necessitates a longer period of time."

Two more years would pass before the Vatican acted on the Rev. Stephen Kiesle's request to leave.

A copy of the letter, typewritten in Latin and signed by Ratzinger, was obtained by The Associated Press. It constitutes the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter is part of years of correspondence beginning in 1981 between the diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about Kiesle, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanors involving child molestation in 1978.

The Vatican confirmed Friday that the letter had Ratzinger's signature and said it was a typical form letter used in laicization cases. Attorney Jeffrey Lena said the matter proceeded "expeditiously, not by modern standards, but by those standards at the time," and that the bishop was to guard against further abuse.

An East Long-meadow priest called yesterday from his pulpit for Pope Benedict XVI to step down, demanding greater protection of children and greater accountability from the Catholic Church hierarchy.

The church’s top leader has not been truthful, said the Rev. James Scahill of St. Michael’s Parish, violating an important tenet of the faith. His strongly worded sermon echoed sentiments he shared with parishioners several weeks ago, but this time, he spent more time and spoke with greater conviction on the controversial subject.

“Any who deny the truth deny Christ, and we, as people, must reclaim our church,’’ Scahill said in a phone interview last night. “Those in authority must be willing to admit to the truth, admit their horrific crime of coverup, and beg for forgiveness, and until that happens, there will be no healing.’’

Benedict has been heavily criticized recently for the way he has dealt with some abuse cases, and Scahill said that because of all the information that has been brought to light, the pope should resign.

Scahill, who became pastor of the church in 2002, has long been outspoken on the need for accountability among church leaders.

Parishioners generally were supportive of Scahill’s sermon, said Parish Council president Thomas LaMondia.

“I thought he did a great job of conveying how he feels and how the church feels about the whole issue,’’ he said yesterday. “I thought he did a really nice job of explaining that it’s really about the protection of children. . . . The church really needs to look at what they need to do to hold people accountable.’’

Controversy within the church over priests’ and bishops’ roles in the abuse scandal has been going on for more than eight years since the scandal broke in Boston but recently it has escalated, with new allegations about the actions of the current pope when he was an archbishop.

“If we cannot get a pope that’s going to give us the truth, then our church is dead,’’ Scahill said.

Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the Diocese of Springfield, was quick to distance the diocesan leadership from the comments made by Scahill.

“It in no way represents the position of the bishop,’’ Dupont said. “We find his statements to be unfortunate.’’

Scahill, he said, has not properly recognized measures to ensure safety undertaken by the American Catholic leadership, which has “led the world in their efforts,’’ as well as steps the Diocese of Springfield took over the years to deal with the issue of sexual abuse.

Photo:  DPA

Pope Benedict's birthplace vandalized

April 13, 10 Berlin, Germany

The house in the Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn where Pope Benedict XVI was born has been vandalized just three days before his 83rd birthday, local authorities reported on Tuesday.

A police spokesperson said the words daubed on the house were of “insulting content,” adding that they referred to the child abuse affair that has rocked the Church in Germany in recent months.

Police refused to reveal the exact words painted on the building in blue, which a passerby noticed on Tuesday morning. The words were quickly covered over.

Pope Benedict was born as Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in the small community in Upper Bavaria. Tuesday’s incident is the second time his place of birth has been vandalised. During a visit to Bavaria in September 2006 two balloons of blue paint were thrown at the house.

In July 2007 a bust of the pope outside the Traunstein parish church – where he conducted his first mass in 1951 – was covered in red paint.

Germany’s Catholic Church has been embroiled in a crisis over recent weeks as victims of widespread sexual and physical abuse continue to come forward. Most cases date back by several years, a fact that has politicians debating a possible extension to the statute of limitations on such crimes.

Similar accusations have also surfaced in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, while Ireland has been rocked by revelations about cover-up efforts by the head of the Church there in the 1970s.

The Vatican has said it received 3,000 reports between 2001 and 2010 of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy committed over the past 50 years.

Meanwhile the pope himself has been drawn into the scandal. In late March the Vatican dismissed fresh allegations that he failed to bar the transfer of a known paedophile priest while he was the archbishop of Munich.

The case followed another accusation according to which Ratzinger failed to act over an American priest accused of molesting up to 200 deaf children between 1950 and 1974.

Vatican shows new transparency with online guide

By NICOLE WINFIELD (AP) – April 10, 10

VATICAN CITY — The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the office once known more chillingly as the Inquisition — has long epitomized the secrecy and mystery of the Vatican, with responsibility for banning books and meting out punishments as severe as excommunication and burning at the stake.

Now, as the office's handling of child-molesting priests comes increasingly under fire, the Vatican is starting to open up. On Monday, it will post on its Web site a concise guide for the layman on how the Congregation handles sex abuse allegations.

Also Friday, the Vatican said that Pope Benedict XVI would meet with more abuse victims and that transparency in dealing with abuse allegations is an "urgent requirement" for the church — a sharp turnabout in Rome's previously defensive response to the scandal.

The laymen's guide, a copy of which was obtained Friday by The Associated Press, doesn't contain any information that isn't available to the public through a trip to a specialized religious library or a Vatican bookstore.

But it puts various sources of complicated canonical procedures together in a concise, easy-to-read, one-page guide, without cumbersome canon law citations and Latin phrases.

The church's internal justice system for dealing with abuse allegations has come under attack because of claims by victims that their accusations were long ignored by bishops more concerned about protecting the church and by the Congregation, which was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1981 until he was elected pope in 2005.

Jose Barba Martin of Mexico tried for years to have his accusations against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ heard by the Congregation. In the end, it took eight years for Rome to discipline the Rev. Marcial Maciel.

"They went through the motions of the law, but they didn't treat us with respect for the law," Barba told the AP from Mexico City.

In the end Barba's abuser was sentenced in 2006 to live a life of reserved prayer; Maciel died in 2008 before the Legionaries admitted that he had fathered at least one child and molested young seminarians.

According to Vatican norms, issued in 2001 and summarized in the new guide, a bishop must investigate every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric. If the accusation has a semblance of truth, the case is referred to the Congregation, which decides how to proceed.

The Congregation's disciplinary department, which weighs each case, is composed of 10 people: Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who is the promoter of justice, or chief prosecutor; the bureau chief; seven priests; and a lay lawyer, though other officials from other Vatican offices are brought in for specific cases.

They can decide to authorize the diocese to pursue either a judicial or an administrative trial, both of which can condemn a priest to a number of penalties, including defrocking, or what the church calls being reduced to the lay state. Victims can also seek damages. Or the Congregation can conduct a trial on its own, although that is rare.

If the evidence is overwhelming, the Congregation can refer the case directly to the pope, who can issue a decree dismissing the priest from the priesthood altogether.

Scicluna has said that since 2001, some 3,000 cases concerning accusations of abuse dating back 50 years have been referred to the Congregation. A full canonical trial has taken place in 20 percent of the cases; 60 percent of the time there has been no trial, primarily because the priest was old and was instead disciplined by other means, such as restricting where he could celebrate Mass and sending him to pray.

In 10 percent of the cases, the pope has dismissed the priest from the priesthood; in the remaining 10 percent of the cases, the priest himself has asked to be laicized.

The norms themselves are full of fascinating details particular to the church: Judges who mete out justice must be priests "of mature age," must hold doctorates in canon law, and must be "outstanding in good morals."

If the Congregation authorizes the diocese to conduct a canonical trial, three to five judges sit in judgment.

The trial is conducted according to the continental system, in which judges weigh the evidence but do the investigating too, as opposed to the American justice system, an adversarial process where facts are evaluated by a jury of peers.

The confidentiality provisions in canonical proceedings are offensive to some in the U.S. But their purpose is to ensure the integrity of the proceedings and not to hide information from civil authorities, said Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's U.S. attorney.

"The problem is that people from one legal culture misinterpret how another legal culture operates," he said. "These misunderstandings unfortunately infect much of the debate raging over the meaning of canonical provisions."

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who has been the main expert witness for victims in hundreds of lawsuits against priests and diocese in the U.S. and elsewhere, said canonical trials can be an effective way to mete out justice — if they are held.

The problem is that they have rarely been held, said Doyle, who in the course of testifying in lawsuits has reviewed documentation from 190 of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States and reviewed more than 1,500 priest personnel files.

"Almost all the cases — where bishops received allegations that a priest sexually abused, raped or molested a child — the bishops' procedure was simply to confront the priest, transfer him to another assignment, and in a few cases they send them to counseling centers," Doyle said.

Doyle said the secrecy surrounding the proceedings is excessive in requiring the victims to take an oath of secrecy once the trial begins.

"The justification for secrecy is usually given to protect the reputations of everyone involved — which is legitimate — and the need to conduct the trial as unencumbered by outside influences," Doyle said. "But the common law system is evidence you can have some transparency."

The Congregation traces its origins to the Congregation for the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, the commission created in 1542 that functioned as a tribunal to root out heresy, punish crimes against the faith and name Inquisitors for the church.

One of its more famous victims was Giordano Bruno, burned in Rome in 1600 after being tried for heresy.

The Congregation today is housed in a grand palazzo on St. Peter's Square, where two Swiss Guards stand at attention. The Vatican declined to let the AP inside for this article.

The Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Pontifical Holy Cross University, has participated in cases before the Congregation's tribunal and been awed by both the history of the institution and tragedy of the crimes that are decided there.

"The first thing anyone who deals with these cases feels is respect — respect for the victim and respect for the priest," he told the AP.

Associated Press writer E. Eduardo Castillo contributed to this report from Mexico City.

The Pope is as guilty by association and has contributed to the actions of the priest that has committed these honorable, sinful crimes.
It could just be a matter of time until the Pope is found out, that he personally is a child molester also.
Pope Benedict XVI is the "MAN OF SIN" and the " falling away" is the defection of the Roman Catholic parishioners.

Papal arrest?

** Is the Holy See above international law? **

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