A BLIND EYE | VOL. I: CRISIS OF FAITH
Written by Adam Riva and edited by Mouthy Buddha, A BLIND EYE VOL 1: CRISIS OF FAITH investigates the pattern of procrastination and inaction on pedophilia in the Catholic Church, corruption and coverups in the Vatican, and evidence possibly implicating both the current and former popes.
TRANSCRIPT & SOURCES
On September 29, 2018, reports emerged that 67 deaf children were sexually abused by more than two dozen priests working at the Antonio Provolo Institute, a Catholic school for deaf and mute children in Verona, Italy. Prosecutors had been working on the investigation for more than a decade.
A boy using the pseudonym “Giuseppe” described his abuse which started at age 11 in an interview he gave in Rome. He explains how a monk employed by the institute taught him and other young boys sign language for penis, anus, masturbation, fellatio, and more.
“I didn’t understand at first just why this man was teaching me these strange secret signs. Then one day it became very clear when one of the priests made the secret sign for fellatio when we were alone, which was followed by him pushing his erect penis into my mouth.”
Giuseppe explained that because their screams literally fell on deaf ears, they were helpless hostages at the hands of the staff. Giuseppe recounted that priests, monks, and brothers would routinely remove boys from their studies and take them to special rooms where the abuse took place. Since the boys could write letters to their families, they would often describe their abuse and beg for help. However, Giuseppe believes that all their cries for help were intercepted.
“Of course we screamed and cried. Sometimes you would see priests coming into the dormitory at night, or you would see friends with tears rolling down their faces and you knew exactly what had just happened. You didn’t need to hear to know.”
Word eventually spread about the abuse, presumably from former students who had aged out of the program upon turning 18. However, when allegations surfaced against Father Nicola Corradi, he was transferred to a different location of the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, Argentina. According to the investigation, Corradi and others in the administration continued to abuse more children. Corradi was finally arrested in 2016 and sentenced to 42 years in prison for abusing 22 children over the course of 30 years. Another priest, Horacio Corbacho, was sentenced to 45 years. In total, 17 of the school’s staff were indicted and both schools were subsequently shut down.
Julieta Añazco attended the Provolo Institute in Argentina. Añazco claims she was first abused by Father Ricardo Giménez who, like Corradi, was later transferred after allegations against him went public. He was transferred by none other than Pope Francis, then known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. Añazco, along with 13 other members of SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, signed an open letter to Pope Francis in July of 2013 reminding him of the abuse and again calling for action on the matter. Although SNAP received a confirmation of receipt, Pope Francis never replied to their letter.
Bishop Accountability, a watchdog website for child abuse in the Catholic Church, cites five separate cases when Pope Francis overlooked or refused to take action as Cardinal.
In fact, Pope Francis sent shockwaves around the world in 2017 by calling for reduced sanctions against convicted pedophile priests.
“Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesman, has defended Pope Francis’ proclivity towards mercy in such cases, stating that “even those who are guilty of heinous crimes,” can expect clemency from the Holy Father, according to AP.
Canon lawyers and church officials argue that keeping abusive priests under the authority of the church is the best way to protect children.”
Naturally, if there was a company riddled with crimes, we would look to the leadership that was either negligent or otherwise complicit in the corruption. Regarding corruption in the Catholic Church, perhaps these are low-ranking officials making these decisions. How do we know for certain that the Pope himself is directly implicated in the covering up of pedophilia?
Vatican Continues to Obfuscate and Procrastinate on Abuse Charges
On December 12, 2018, Pope Francis caved to mounting public pressure to expel three out of nine advisors from his Council of Cardinals after five years of litigation around child abuse. One third of Pope Francis’ closest advisors were embroiled in sexual abuse scandals and were not proactively removed, rather, they were only expelled after significant public condemnation. The Council of Cardinals was assembled in 2013 to help reform the Church. Those removed were Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Chile, Cardinal Laurent Monswengo Pasinya of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cardinal George Pell of Australia.
Pell is the most significant and high profile individual in the Catholic Church to get convicted for pedophilia as he was the third most powerful person in the Church internationally. He reportedly worked with Pope Francis daily. Pell was the treasurer of the Vatican, otherwise known as the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy within the Holy See. Pell was handpicked by Francis to root out corruption in the institution. Moreover, Francis had previously applauded Pell for his honesty and conviction in dealing with sexual abuse within the Church. Over 50 witnesses stepped forward to corroborate the veracity of the accusations against Pell. He was sentenced to six years in prison on March 12, 2019.
Steven Spaner, coordinator of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said that,
“It is no small factor that the indictment of the reportedly third ranking Vatican official brings the issue of Church responsibility and Church inaction to the Pope’s doorstep, indeed, to his inner most sacred and canonical chambers. In short, the Pope’s hand has been called.”
Three other Vatican officials have been charged with similar crimes in recent years. Monsignor Carlo Capella was charged in 2018 with possession and distribution of child pornography and sentenced to five years in prison. Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski was arrested in 2013 for sexually abusing young boys but died before his trail commenced. Archbishop Luigi Ventura was placed under investigation for abuse allegations in 2019 and his verdict is currently pending. Like Italy, Vatican City has no legal requirement to report sexual abuse to the authorities.
On November 12, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Vatican had barred bishops in the United States from taking any action against child abuse within the Church until after a summit to be held the following year. This last-minute directive was given shortly before bishops were to hold a vote on how to go about dealing with the persistent crisis, highlighting the incessant procrastination from the highest levels of the Church.
Surely, all this evidence of conspiracy to ignore and hide pedophilia in the church is hyperbolic or missing contexts. Is it perhaps the mad ravings and exaggerated politics of disgruntled leaders within the Church?
On January 4, 2019, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who stands accused in several different cases of child abuse, was defended by the Vatican as having “consensual sex” with a 16 year old altar boy in 1972. Although the Archdiocese of New York found the allegations of molestation to be credible, the Vatican instead reversed this ruling and asserted that the altar boy was passed the age of majority in Canon law, even though the age of majority under US law is 18. Recent allegations that McCarrick used his beach houses to operate a sex ring are still being adjudicated at the time of this writing.
Five months prior, on August 22, 2018, Archbishop Carlo Viganò penned an eleven page testimony claiming that Pope Francis not only knew of McCarrick’s crimes and the sanctions set against him by Pope Benedict XVI after being installed in 2013, but Francis also promoted him to be “his trusted counselor.” Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington D.C., has publicly supported Viganò and vouched for the veracity of his claims. Viganò’s testimony also implicated several other high-ranking Vatican officials for their negligence and publicly called for Francis to resign from his post. Viganò claims that bishops conspired to coverup an extensive “homosexual network” within the Church. [Fox News video report]
“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to Cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
On August 30, 2018, a letter to Pope Francis signed by over 47,000 Catholic women was published, charging him with providing an inadequate response to Viganò’s letter. Francis responded in the form of launching an internal investigation.
On November 10, 2020, the Vatican published its two year, 449-page investigation that revealed former Pope John Paul II, now deceased and canonized as a saint, promoted McCarrick after learning of his abuse allegations. While the report threw many officials under the bus, it portrayed Francis as innocent.
According to the Huffington Post,
“The findings accused bishops dead and alive of providing the Vatican with incomplete information about McCarrick’s behavior, and of turning a blind eye to his repeated flouting of informal restrictions ordered up in 2006 after Pope Benedict XVI decided not to investigate or sanction him seriously. … Several of Vigano’s central assertions were confirmed, but not the ones involving Francis.”
The Vatican report contains new testimonies that indicate people tried to sound the alarm on McCarrick as early as the mid-1980s. These claims of early knowledge are corroborated by Catholic News Service which reported its receipt of a letter confirming that Vatican officials knew of allegations against McCarrick as early as 2000.
Why is there a pattern of neglect and coverups of child abuse at the hands of priests and clergymen? Why does the Church, at the highest levels, seem to be more concerned about protecting its image than protecting its victims?
In October of 2019, an Associated Press investigation found that nearly 1,700 accused priests and clergymen that the Vatican considers credibly accused pedophiles are now living unsupervised by law enforcement and hold positions such as teachers, coaches, and counselors and many live near playgrounds. Some even counsel survivors of sexual assault. Since being defrocked by the Church, many have committed new crimes including sexual assault and possession of child pornography. This number is especially alarming considering the Associated Press only investigated about 2,000 priests in total. This means approximately 85% of all living priests that have been credibly accused are now under the radar, living near and working with children. Additionally, 76 of those remaining alive could not be located at all.
In 2015, Pope Francis defended Bishop Juan Barros who was accused of covering up child abuse crimes of priests in Chile. Despite the scandal, Francis promoted him to head the Diocese of Osorno. When public pressure reached fever pitch, Francis reversed his stance and condemned Barros. Chilean prosecutors demanded access to the Church’s secret archives which eventually resulted in over 100 investigations into allegedly abusive priests and how archbishops worked to conceal their crimes.
When asked about this scandal in January of 2018, Pope Francis remarked to an Associated Press reporter,
“You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”
However, members of the Pope’s own Commission for the Protection of Minors contradict his denial and confirm that he received a victim’s 8-page letter in 2015 that graphically described Bishop Barros’ abuse.
To call this an isolated incident would be incorrect. In 2019, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was appointed by Pope Francis to investigate child abuse, was himself accused of sexually abusing a child. This litigation is still pending at the time of this production.
On September 15, 2017, the Associated Press reported that one of the Vatican’s high ranking priests serving as a diplomat in Washington D.C. was recalled by the Vatican after child pornography allegations reached fever pitch. As a diplomat, the priest has legal immunity against prosecution from most crimes under the Vienna Convention. The Vatican recalled the priest to avoid prosecution and then denied the State Department’s request to waive this immunity three days later.
The deep ties to systemic pedophilia in the Vatican continue to unravel in increasingly shocking ways. Perhaps Francis was not the only pope to cover for pedophilia within the Church.
According to an article published by the New Yorker on January 14, 2016 entitled What Pope Benedict Knew About Abuse in the Catholic Church, 231 Catholic choir boys were abused in Bavaria under the directorship of Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Joseph Ratzinger who later served as Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013. Furthermore, Joseph Ratzinger oversaw the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the disciplinary branch of the church that oversees sexual abuse, during the same time his brother was directing the boys’ choir which was being sexually abused.
“The news received widespread attention not only because of its disturbing content but because the director of the Regensburg boys’ choir from 1964 to 1994 was Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI (16th).
The developments in Germany raised the question of what the two Ratzinger brothers knew about the abuse in the Regensburg choir.”
In 2010, Georg Ratzinger acknowledged that some choirboys complained about the sexual abuse. He told the media,
“But I did not have the feeling at the time that I should do something about it… Had I known with what exaggerated fierceness he was acting, I would have said something.”
The preponderance of evidence underpins a concerted effort by the Vatican to hide abuse, remain silent, stymie investigations, delay action, obfuscate perceptions, mislead the public, and do anything and everything to maintain a squeaky-clean image rather than doing the ethical, honorable, and just thing. Of course, this investigation but scratches the surface of the true magnitude of this crisis.
If we are to follow the evidence and believe the whistleblowers, we might conclude that Pope Francis is at the very least complicit in the coverup of widespread sexual abuse of children. Recent revelations revolving abuse at the highest levels of the Vatican seem to call into question the Pope’s accomplices and substantiate claims that Vatican officials are directly involved in the abuse itself.
Regardless of one’s faith or denomination, we must all agree that man is capable of unspeakable darkness. Those most in need of salvation are the child victims of these pedophiles masquerading as holy men. Let us pray for the prosecution of these sick, soulless creatures and criminal syndicates involved in this industry of sorrow.
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