Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pope John Paul II ignored Ratzinger's pleas to pursue sex abuse cardinal

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tried to persuade Pope John Paul II to mount a full investigation into a cardinal who abused boys and young monks, one of the Church’s most senior figures revealed yesterday.

But Ratzinger’s opponents in the Vatican managed to block the inquiry.

As the future Benedict XVI put it: “The other side won.”

The pervert cardinal was the late Hans Hermann Groer, removed as Archbishop of Vienna in 1995 following sex allegations.

The source for the story is Groer’s successor in Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, an intellectual whom some commentators have tipped as a possible future Pope.

That’s quite a revelation, in my book – but it doesn’t fit the script that the Benedict-hating media have written, so we’re not hearing too much about it.

Also, I suspect that former advisers to John Paul would rather not remind us that the late Pope didn’t do enough to curb sex abuse and cover-ups. Safer to blame Benedict, eh?

Here’s the quote from a report by Philip Pullella of Reuters:

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in defence of the pope, told ORF Austrian television on Sunday that Benedict wanted a full probe when former Vienna Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was removed in 1995 for alleged sexual abuse of a boy.

But other Curia officials persuaded the then Pope John Paul that the media had exaggerated the case and an inquiry would only create more bad publicity.

“[Ratzinger] told me, ‘the other side won’,” Schoenborn said.

The other side. I suspect he was referring to a Vatican old boys’ club that Cardinal Ratzinger never joined, and which didn’t want sex abuse cases to “damage the good name of the Church” (ie, disturb their back-slapping suppers in favoured trattorie).

And the irony is that the journalists who have written lazy and hate-filled articles about Benedict XVI – such as this dreadful piece by India Knight, someone I’d previously admired – are unwittingly providing protection to the really compromised figures in the Vatican and bishops’ conferences.

Groer, who was as guilty as hell, died in 2003. Here is a BBC report from 1998:

The news agency of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria says a former Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, is to go into exile, because of accusations against him of sexual misconduct.

The report follows the release of a statement by the church in Vienna in which Cardinal Groer, 78, asked for forgiveness but made no admission of guilt.

“In the past three years there have been many often incorrect statements concerning me. I ask God and the people for forgiveness if I have brought guilt upon myself,” he says in the statement.

Cardinal Groer stepped down as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria in 1995 following charges that he had sexually abused a schoolboy 20 years earlier. After his resignation there were further allegations that he sexually molested monks.

The charges were ignored by the Church hierarchy until two months ago when a papal investigation commenced.

The inquiry was ordered by the Pope after appeals from church leaders to settle the controversy and restore the Church’s status in Austria.

Now the statement follows a request from the Pope that Cardinal Groer give up his duties and is being taken as a sign that the investigation has found against him.

The BBC correspondent in Vienna says many Catholics in Austria are bitterly divided over the issue and some have accused the Church of covering up.

The Bishop’s chancellery in Vienna said no further steps are expected from Rome.

The correspondent says this is likely to further offend the many Catholics who think Hermann Groer should no longer be a cardinal.

No further steps from Rome.


Probably because, according to Cardinal Schoenborn – who has some maverick views but is certainly not a liar – the future Benedict XVI had lost his battle to mount a proper investigation of a sex abuser Cardinal, instead of the secretive and inconclusive one that apparently took place. No wonder he demanded full authority to investigate these cases and assumed greater responsibility for them in 2001.

He’s facing a terrible situation, no doubt about it; and no doubt also he made mistakes himself: the fact that he was far more vigilant than other cardinals doesn’t mean he was vigilant enough.

But history will show that it was Benedict XVI, not John Paul II, who initiated the “purification” of the Church to remove its “filth” – his words, and uttered long before this current crisis arose.

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to us or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that we agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.