For decades, sex scandals involving Roman Catholic clergy have been rocking the world’s largest Christian religion. What started out as isolated incidents in obscure parishes began to spread horizontally first across America and then across the world. It also spread vertically, embroiling the highest ranks of the Church as either actively engaging in salacious activities or covering them up on a grand scale. The suspicions and accusations stopped just short of the Pope – but that may be changing.
Concern about pedophilia pederasty within the cloistered confines of the institutional Church hierarchy was raised as far back as 1947 by Father Gerald Fitzgerald, whose order, the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete, functioned to aid troubled clergy – priests having difficulties with alcoholism, drug addiction and, most significantly, chastity. Through his work, Fitzgerald became aware of what he described as a growing culture of pederasty in the American Church.
Fitzgerald attempted to persuade bishops and even Pope Paul VI to take action. He recommended that corrupt clergy be removed from interaction with young boys. His concerns were never addressed, and the problem continued to grow.
In the 1970s, it was whispered that the Church was actively recruiting gay seminarians to bolster the declining ranks of the clergy. It was partially that gay recruitment was based on the belief that they would uphold the Church’s ban on clergy marriage. It was later alleged that the recruitment was led by priests and bishops responding to their own predilections. An article in Vanity Fair reported an estimate claiming that 20 to 60 percent of today’s Catholic priests are gay.
In the ensuing years, the Catholic Church suffered a series of scandals, each more serious than the former. In the 1980s, the American Church was again rocked by accusations. More and more victims were coming forward. It was no longer a matter of isolated incidents, the trail of accusations led to cover ups by bishops and cardinals. It was starting to reveal a significant culture within the Church.
The problem was not confined to America. Scandals popped up across the globe – Australia, Canada, Ireland and Chile — just to name a few. Suddenly, the Church was riddled with institutionalized pedophilia and pederasty. The culpability of the Church hierarchy went beyond cover-ups to participation. The sexual misconduct and the creation of sexual groups involved members of the College of Cardinals.
The globalization of the problem led critics to claim that such widespread moral and legal corruption – that the similar cover-up policies around the world – could not have happened without the knowledge and the guidance of the Church leaders in the highest offices in Rome. Supporting that theory was the falling from grace, and from office, of several prominent bishops and cardinals.
The number of bishops and cardinals accused of sexual impropriety stands at 88 from 30 nations. Sixty-four of the accused were cases of pedophilia, with most of those cases being homosexual in nature.
The problem has become so serious that a number of states in Australia passed laws that require priests to report child sexual abuse cases that are heard in confession. The Church is fighting back to protect the long standing “seal of confession” which bans the further revelation of any sin or crime confessed to clergy.
As is often the case, the cover-up becomes as serious a matter as the crime, itself. This has been particularly true for the Catholic Church. Investigators have found a pervasive pattern of ignoring allegations or taking defensive measures, such as moving guilty priests and bishops to new assignments – often where children would be part of their ministry.
For more than 70 years, since Father Fitzgerald first rang the alarm, the problem of pedophilia and pederasty has grown like a cancer in the Church. The number of clergy accused of criminality is in the thousands across the world, the number of known victims is in the tens of thousands. And, it is believed that greater numbers are yet to be discovered.
Despite the growing problem, the College of Cardinals, as an institution, and the Pope have not been dragged into the issue. Up until now, the popes have been perceived as the forces of reform. That assumption may be fading in the face of more facts and testimony.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio (ambassador) in Washington, released a statement in which he claims Pope Francis had not only been advised of specific cases, but that he acted to protect the perpetrators. Viganò elevated the issue to an unprecedented level when he wrote that Pope Francis’ participation in the cover-ups warrants his resignation.
Viganò specifically addressed the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. Evidence and testimony revealed that he had been having sexual relationships with altar boys and seminarians throughout most of his years in the Church – including as an auxiliary bishop in New York, the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey and the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey. All these promotions came despite a series of complaints over many years.
Upon learning of his misdeeds, then-Pope Benedict had McCarrick removed from ministry and banned travel. Not only did Pope Francis lift the restrictions on McCarrick, but he took him as an advisor in naming bishops and cardinals, including his own successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has now been embroiled in controversy for covering up McCarrick’s immoral and criminal activities. Wuerl’s appointment was peculiar in that he was not on the list prepared for the Pope. It was Pope Francis’ personal decision based on McCarrick’s recommendation.
Critics within the Church have accused Pope Francis of creating what they call the “lavender Mafia” – a cabal of clergy with liberal views on clergy sexuality, including homosexuality. They are said to include those who both engage in pedophilia or protect those who do.
Though it has not received a lot of news coverage, Pope Francis’ is often dogged by protestors as he travels from country to country. The often carry large photographs of victims. In recent months, more and more protest signs have called for the Pope to resign.
The Pope’s public condemnations of errant clergy tend to only come after there is a major outbreak of news and protests. Critics point to his initial response to the pleas of victims during his trip to South America, when he warned against false accusations. He was confronted by the faithful protesting child sexual abuse by clergy at almost every stop on his tour of Argentina, Chile and Peru. It was only after he was back in Rome and the issue exploded in the media that he reversed himself and apologized to the victims. He has not yet taken any action against the accused.
The Catholic Church may be heading into the most significant institutional moral crisis since the Middle Ages. There are those who believe when all the facts are known, Pope Francis will be forced out of the papacy as a corrupt Pope. That may be a bit too speculative for this moment, but it is increasingly clear that the hems of the papal cassock may not be as pure white as they were once thought to be.
Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government officials have to obtain a warrant in order to track an individual’s location data via cell phone records over an extended period of time.
“In the 5-4 ruling, the court said police generally need a court-approved warrant to get access to the data, setting a higher legal hurdle than previously existed under federal law. The court said obtaining such data without a warrant from wireless carriers, as police routinely do, amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment,” writes Newsmax.
In the case named Carpenter v. United States, the court ruled in Timothy Carpenter’s favor after he filed the suit after police connected him to several armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Ohio and Michigan. His location data was tracked by police for 127 days back in 2011.
Carpenter’s lawyers argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment because they needed “probable cause” to get Carpenter’s digital records from third-party carriers, therefore should have gotten a warrant.
“We hold that an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements as captured through CSLI (cell-site location information),” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the court’s ruling. “Although such (cell phone) records are generated for commercial purposes, that distinction does not negate Carpenter’s anticipation of privacy in his physical location.”
Roberts also pointed out that technology is both a blessing and a curse, along with playing a “pervasive and insistent part of daily life.”
“Virtually any activity on the phone generates, including incoming calls, texts, or e-mails and countless other data connections that a phone automatically makes when checking for news, weather, or social media updates,” said Roberts. “Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities. This tool risks Government encroachment of the sort the Framers after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”
This is the latest case where the court has boost privacy rights in the digital realm, but government officials can still get access to real-time location information.
This is still a step in the right direction and a victory for privacy advocates.
“For 40 years, the assumption has been that individuals have no expectation of privacy in any information we voluntarily share with third parties — from phone records to bank statements to how and where we buy and sell goods,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst. “Even though today’s ruling argues that cell-site location data is unique, it’s easy to see how it will open the door to countless other contexts in which privacy advocates and criminal defendants will argue for similar privacy protections – and similar warrant requirements.”
ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler expressed similar sentiments and said the case was “a groundbreaking victory for Americans’ privacy rights in the digital age.”
“The Supreme Court has given privacy law an update that it has badly needed for many years, finally bringing it in line with the realities of modern life,” said Wessler.
Author’s note: We still have a long way to go, but this case will likely inspire more rulings that protect individual’s privacy rights and personal data.
Editor’s note: Our privacy rights are the key to all of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Are we ever going to reverse this trend?
A majority of voters blame the parents of children who are separated at the border for the current illegal immigration crisis — not the federal government, according to a new survey.
The results give an interesting look into how people feel about who is ultimately responsible for the immigration debacle, which is now playing out on television screens around the world.
When families are arrested and separated after attempting to enter the United States illegally, 54 percent of likely U.S. voters say the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. Just 35 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government is more to blame for enforcing the law. Another 11 percent say they are not sure.
These are the findings of a new Rasmussen Report survey conducted by phone and online interviews from June 19 – 20. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to stop the policy of separating families of those caught entering the U.S. illegally along the U.S.–Mexico border.
Further analysis of the survey shows that 82 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party feel the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. But 60 percent of Democrats say the government is more to blame for enforcing the law.
The survey also queried participants about how aggressively the Trump Administration was enforcing the rule to separate children from parents. Once again, the results showed partisan divisions, with 75 percent of Democrats saying the Trump administration is too aggressive. Only 23 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of unaffiliated voters felt the administration was too aggressive.
The Trump Administration this week announced plans to use a 1977 emergency law to block Chinese investment in US tech and to limit tech exports to China.
More specifically, the proposal blocks companies with at least one-quarter Chinese ownership from purchasing US firms involved in “industrially significant technology” and seeks to limit the export of certain technologies to China.
The two-pronged approach is specifically designed to stop China from accomplishing its “Made in China 2025” initiative to become globally dominant in 10 areas of technology by the year 2025.
“The President has made clear his desire to protect American technology,” says Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. “All possibilities that would better protect American technology, including potential changes to export controls, are under review.”
While the block on Chinese investment isn’t expected to have a huge effect on American businesses, some industries worry the new export controls could harm their businesses by preventing them from taking advantage of their technological edge. Others worry that declaring a national economic emergency will have a negative effect on the stock market and on US companies operating in China.
The proposal, which is still subject to change, would apply only to new deals and would not seek to undo existing ones. The Administration also said US industries would have the opportunity to comment on the proposal before it takes effect.
“There is opportunity for the administration to arrive at a formula for policy that addresses national-security risks in a targeted way and not put a blanket on activities that our companies are involved in every single day,” says Josh Kallmer of the Information Technology Industry Council, adding that he expects several companies to comment on the proposal.
The twin measures against China are among a series of economic actions Trump has justified by claiming a national security threat.
The steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
The new restrictions on China will be enacted under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 – an emergency law which gives the president certain powers in the case of an “unusual and extraordinary threat” – that threat in this case being China’s spying and theft of intellectual property.
Opponents have criticized Trump for using the security threat rationale to accomplish his trade objectives.
“The administration is saying, ‘if we declare everything a national security issue we can do whatever we want,’” argues China expert Derek Scissors. “It’s a misuse of executive power.”
The new restrictions on China follow threats by Trump to impose tariffs on up to $450 billion of Chinese goods. A 25% tariff on $34 billion of Chinese imports is scheduled to go into effect on July 6th.
Thanks to increased federal scrutiny of foreign deals, Chinese investment in the US has already dropped more than 90% compared to this time last year. And Congress is also considering a separate proposal that would further increase the scrutiny of foreign business deals to determine the risk that “critical technology” will be transferred to other countries.
Editor’s note: This IS a threat and Trump is negotiating fiercely. No other president seems to have ever had the guts to go toe to toe with not only China, but Europe and our other trading partners who have been taking advantage of our good will.