Monday, October 3, 2011

Malta Clerical victims prepared to take case to European Court

The SECRET Vatican Swiss Banks can afford to buy the souls of local judges therefore these pedophile priests' sex victims are wise to go to higher courts where judges have keener consciences for justice and are seasoned judges.

(We hope) These judges in high European Courts and The Hague did not sell their souls when they were in lower court houses then and therefore they will not sell it now that they are in higher courts.

Let us pray that The Hague judges will not sell their souls to the Vatican Bank but will consider the sex abuses cases committed by the JP2 Army John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army now also known as the Vatican Army and B16 Army Benedict XVI's Pedophile Priests Army, read our blog here

John Paul II Millstone

Benedict XVI Ratzinger: God's Rottweiler

Clerical victims prepared to take case to European Court

Times of Malta

Sunday, October 2, 2011 ,
by Herman Grech

Curia fails to respond to questions

The victims of clerical sex abuse are prepared to resort to the European Court of Human Rights if the local courts dismiss their claims for compensation from the Church.

“We’re not going to stop here,” Lawrence Grech told The Sunday Times, eight days after the Church said it bore no legal responsibility for sexual crimes committed at a Sta Venera orphanage by two priests on 11 boys, now adults.

The two convicted priests, sentenced to a total of 11 years’ imprisonment and currently on bail, are appealing against their convictions.

Mr Grech and Joe Magro, another of the victims, said the group intended suing the Church for moral damages and – should they lose – would turn to the Strasbourg court.

Mr Grech insisted that during the first meeting between the Curia and the victims, Archbishop Paul Cremona had told lawyer Patrick Valentino to say how much was being claimed in compensation.

“Our lawyer left it up to the Curia to name a figure. At that point, the Archbishop made it clear he wanted to cooperate,” Mr Grech claimed.

However, in a surprise statement issued on September 22 the Curia said it had been given legal advice that “... in this particular case, (the Church) as an institution, does not have any legal responsibility for what was perpetrated by some individuals and that she (the Church) cannot take upon herself such responsibility.”

Instead, the Church said it would set up a structure that would include psychiatric, psychological and social professionals to provide the necessary help.

This fell short of the request made by the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, Mgr Charles Scicluna, whom it is claimed encouraged the victims’ lawyer, Patrick Valentino, to de­mand compensation.

Mr Grech described the Archbishop as a humble man who clearly wanted to help, but pointed at the people “around him” who stopped him doing the right thing.

Mr Magro said an additional lawyer has now been engaged to support Dr Valentino.

“What we are seeing is a gross injustice. We were first sexually abused, then faced delays of years until our case was decided, and now all we’ve got is an apology from the Church,” Mr Magro protested.

The Curia had a lot to answer for, including the fact that one of the sentenced priests was put in charge of a children’s home in Malta after fleeing similar charges of abuse in Canada, he added.

“The Church worldwide has given compensation to every victim of clerical abuse. Why not Malta? I fear this decision was taken to dissuade other victims from speaking out,” Mr Magro said.

Asked to respond to accusations that the victims were being perceived as gold-diggers, and losing public sympathy in the process, Mr Grech replied: “I ask these same critics – what would they do if they were in my shoes?

“If we just accept the Curia’s statement we’d have lost the battle. People ask for compensation even when they’re involved in an accident.

“Why shouldn’t we have that same right when the court established we suffered abuse which scarred us for life? I have a wife and children. Do you think it was easy for me to appear on TV and talk about my case? We’re being treated like garbage.”

Questions sent to the Curia last Thursday remained unanswered. Among others, the Curia was asked to reply to criticism that it was ignoring its moral obligation to award compensation to the victims, even if not legally bound to do so.


‘Disgusted’ clerical abuse victims demand compensation

‘Effects are not time-barred’

A group of clerical child abuse victims could only get a fair shot at life and start afresh if they received financial compensation, their lawyer Patrick Valentino insisted yesterday.
These victims were placed in the Church’s care for character formation, but instead they were scarred for life

“I know it may look bad, but only a financial sum can really change their lives and start to balance things out after all the suffering they have endured,” he said.

However, he would not state what sum the victims are seeking, saying only that figures were never discussed and the men had agreed to build on any offer made by the Church.

He said the victims were expecting compensation in light of several meetings between the Curia and the men’s lawyer, where “nothing was ruled out”.

Dr Valentino said that since the Church had refused to offer compensation, the victims had no choice but to institute legal proceedings against the Church, the Missionary Society of St Paul and the two priests convicted of abuse.

Addressing a press conference outside the Curia in Floriana yesterday morning, Dr Valentino said the victims were “disappointed, surprised and disgusted” by the stand taken by the Church last week, claiming it hid behind legal arguments and ignored the moral issue at stake.

“These victims were placed in the Church’s care for character formation, but instead they were scarred for life,” he said.

When the Church first reacted to the sentencing of the two priest-abusers Charles Pulis (now sacked from the clerical state) and Fr Godwin Scerri, it acknowledged responsibility and asked the victims and Maltese society for forgiveness.

In a press release issued last month, the Church had also apologised because its investigation had taken several years.

However, last Thursday the Church said that after consulting lawyers it could not accept legal responsibility for the abuse though it was prepared to offer victims help in the form of psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists.

Dr Valentino said it was contradictory for the Church to ask for forgiveness, offer psychological help, but then say it is not legally obliged to pay compensation. The abusers, he said, took a vow of poverty and could therefore not provide compensation themselves.

Dr Valentino was also critical that the Church was once again referring to “alleged” abuse, despite the convictions and defrocking of one of the priests involved.

Dr Valentino said that while the victims wanted closure, the Church’s refusal to offer compensation meant the issue would have to be reopened in court.

The Church, he said, was likely to argue that many of the incidents were time-barred but this argument holds no water for the victims, who were abused as teenagers.

He said some had been certified as unable to work, while others could not enjoy their family life and had never washed their kids for fear that they might abuse them. “These things are not time-barred,” he said.

Dr Valentino said that in several almost identical cases, the Church in other counties reached out-of-court settlements because they acknowledged their moral responsibility towards the victims.

Archbishop Paul Cremona declined to comment on the case yesterday. Approached following a Caritas seminar, his spokesman swiftly intervened and said there was “nothing to add” to the statements issued. Any questions, he said, could be sent by e-mail. Before yesterday’s morning’s news conference, some of the victims appeared in front of the Curia carrying posters criticising the Church. When Dr Valentino arrived for the news conference, he told the victims to remove the posters and asked the press not to publish photos of the protest.

The abuse took place at the St Joseph’s Home in Sta Venera when the 11 victims, now adults, were teenagers.

The two convicted priests, sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment and currently on bail, are appealing against the court decision.

No financial compensation from Church
‘Our battle is just beginning’ – victim

Friday, September 23, 2011 ,
by Matthew Xuereb

The Church has rejected legal responsibility for the sexual abuse perpetrated by two of its priests on a group of boys at the St Joseph’s Home, putting paid to the possibility of an out-of-court settlement on financial compensation for the victims.

In an unexpected statement yesterday, the Curia said it had been given legal advice that “ this particular case, (the Church) as an institution, does not have any legal responsibility for what was perpetrated by some individuals and that she (the Church) cannot take upon herself such responsibility.”

The decision was taken at a meeting between Archbishop Paul Cremona, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech and Auxiliary Bishop Annetto Depasquale and the superiors of the major religious orders in Malta.

The announcement was made yesterday after the Curia met the victims’ lawyers for a “final meeting” on possible compensation.

In its statement, the Curia said it was willing to provide counselling without attaching this offer to the St Joseph case specifically.

“However, the Church authorities, without referring to any specific cases, and without prejudice for their position in the civil cases which may arise in the future, and without renouncing to their rights of defence which they can legally present, are taking the necessary steps for the setting up, out of their own funds, a structure which will include psychiatric, psychological and social professionals who will provide all the necessary help in their respective field. This applies for every individual who, in any way, is proved to be a victim by individual pastoral functionaries. The Church is doing this as part of her pastoral and spiritual ministry.”

The Church’s statement comes only a few weeks after a court declared two priests guilty of abusing young boys in their care in the 1980s and 1990s.

Carmelo Pulis and Fr Godwin Scerri were jailed for six years and five years respectively after being convicted of sexually abusing boys at St Joseph Home in Santa Venera.

The Vatican has dismissed Mr Pulis from the clerical state while a decision on Fr Scerri is expected by October. Both appealed the judgments. A third priest, who also faced charges, died last January.

The case came to light in 2003 after one of the victims, Lawrence Grech, decided to break his silence. The matter was investigated by the Church’s Response Team, which eventually referred the case to the Vatican.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Grech said he and the group of victims he represented were “utterly disappointed” with the Curia’s stand, adding that the matter will be taken to a civil court.

“I am disappointed how the Archbishop met us and apologised and said he felt humiliated and then offered us a sorry and psychological help. We don’t want that and we will take the matter to court,” he said.

“Our battle is just beginning. Just like the priests had said they were not responsible for what we were saying they had done, now we have the Church saying it is not responsible for this action. We will leave it up to the court to decide that.”

He said further reactions to the Church’s stance would be announced during a press conference tomorrow morning.

The Church’s decision not to reach an out-of-court settlement followed meetings between Mgr Cremona and the victim’s lawyer, Patrick Valentino.

At the end of the last meeting on September 7, Mgr Cremona had said that both parties were going to meet again a week later for their “final meeting”. This meeting, sources said, was held yesterday in a room within the precincts of the Law Court and the talks, unlike the other two meetings, did not include Mgr Cremona.

The Vatican’s chief prosecutor, Monsignor Charles Scicluna who had encouraged the victims’ lawyer to demand compensation, yesterday had no comment to make on the Church’s statement.


Tiems of Malta
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ranier Fsadni

The Church and morality of money

The arguments about whether the Church owes the victims of child abuse financial reparations are caught up in broader assumptions about the morality of money. Here is an attempt to disentangle four questions.
It is not clear, to me at least, that financial compensation would address the victims’ moral needs
- Ranier Fsadni

Is the money donated by the Church to the anti-divorce campaign relevant?

Absolutely not. It shows no skewed values.

The Church hierarchy believes that divorce laws cause a catastrophic rise in marital breakdowns and various other kinds of social damage, particularly to children. Those beliefs are unwarranted but, once you hold them, it becomes rational and responsible to spend less than €200,000 on a campaign since, according to those same beliefs, the damage that would be caused by a divorce law would be more expensive and permanent. The hierarchy was being logical in believing it was spending that money on behalf of the socially needy rather than channelling it away from them.

Likewise, in itself, the decision not to give any financial compensation to the victims of child abuse need not necessarily be callous. The decision does not pit the caprices of fat cat clerics against the victims’ needs. Any money paid out will be channelled away from funds that could be dedicated to charitable institutions. The decision pits the needs of one set of victims against those of others.

Should the fact that the victims are seeking money throw doubts on their motives, especially since previously they had said their quest for justice was not about money?

Not necessarily. There is nothing unusual about needing a long time to come to terms with a deep trauma. One’s recognition of what one wants seldom comes in a flash. Especially since self-understanding depends on how the world around you is responding to what you’re saying.

As for the request for money: in itself, money doesn’t soil things. In this case, there are several indications that the money is being requested to a significant extent for its symbolic value. Being paid money, for the victims, is partly about being granted recognition equal to that granted victims elsewhere. Not being paid the money – on this view – is to be treated as less worthy.

Once again, one need not share the assumptions. In a moment I’ll state my own doubts about them. But once one takes the assumptions into account, one cannot easily attack the motive.

Does the archdiocese have any special responsibility towards the victims?

Of course the Church in Malta has a special responsibility, given that they were abused in one of its institutions. But what does that special responsibility imply for the archdiocese?

Elsewhere, dioceses were held responsible when they engaged in cover-ups and enabled predatory clerics to continue their life of crime. In the Maltese cases at issue, the archdiocese has not been accused of such collusion. It is true that the Church Response Team exonerated Charles Pulis; but it did so on the basis of the testimony of a key witness, who later testified differently before the court. It is also true that the response team took an unacceptably long time to conclude its inquiry; but in this it was no different from the court.

So the responsibility does not stem from guilt by association (or, if it is, then every member of the Church, lay, religious and clerical, is guilty). It stems from the solicitude and solidarity that the Church should have for the wretched of the earth. Its self-proclaimed mission is to give all persons the confidence that they are individually and infinitely loved. That mission obviously has a special moral responsibility towards children whose already wrecked self-esteem was further shattered during their time in a Church home.

Does moral responsibility have to translate itself into monetary compensation?

If the sexual abuse can be shown to have caused a loss of income, or inability to work, or a need for special therapeutic treatment, then of course financial compensation should be given. But what about money given as reparations for wounds of the soul – the grave offences to self-worth and integrity which cannot, however, be directly linked to financial loss?

Here the debate is striking in what it takes to be natural assumptions. The leading one is that only money can be taken as a serious sign of taking moral responsibility. We assume that it is crass to put a monetary value on the traumas inflicted (the Church would have been condemned for giving hush money if it had been the first to mention money, in secrecy). Simultaneously it is said that any offer of help that is not money is “cheap” and immoral.

According to this logic, responsibility is established using moral reasoning. But reparations of a moral or spiritual nature, intended to show atonement and respect, are not deemed to display proper care. Worth and respect can only properly be shown by giving financial compensation: only that shows recognition of personal dignity and worth; only that shows true atonement and contrition.

Stated this way, one can see that the debate is inseparable from the wider culture, where money is deeply enmeshed in how we symbolise character and self-worth. It is not clear, to me at least, that financial compensation would address the victims’ moral needs. But they cannot be blamed for asserting themselves using a language of self-worth that has, as we say, the strongest currency.

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