THE BLOG
09/26/2008 06:33 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Papal Bull: Sex, Lies and Vatican-tape

Pope Benedict was quoted that during the 10-day visit to Australia he would work for "healing and reconciliation with the victims" of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy there "just as I did in the United States" earlier this year. --

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Pope Benedict is in Australia and apparently about to pull the same media stunt of faux concern for the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy that he pulled in the United States in April of this year. A carefully-orchestrated media strategy that led many US commentators to hail what appeared to them to be the Pope's courage and decency in meeting with five U.S. victims of clergy sex abuse.

In June, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the US representative of the Pope was asked about the Pope's April visit and its impact on the sex abuse issue. Sambi claimed that the idea that the Vatican had not understood the gravity of the sex abuse issue had disappeared. "The Pope has shown the way to finally overcome this humiliating conduct."

This is all Papal Bull.

I am a supporter of S.N.A.P., the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the largest organization of clergy sex abuse victims in the United States. It has over 8,000 members. For the past five years, my media company has provided services pro-bono to SNAP in legal battles by survivors of clergy sex abuse against the Diocese of Los Angeles and its rogue Cardinal Roger Mahoney, the most powerful prelate in the U.S representing the Vatican. It is this rogue Cardinal who has obstructed justice and aided and abetted his priestly rapists, many who have been convicted or are now fugitives -- on the run from arrest warrants.

The Oscar-nominated documentary Deliver Us From Evil (Lionsgate Films), produced by CNN's Amy Berg, proved these well-known accusations and showed documented courtroom proof beyond any reasonable doubt, on how the Vatican and U.S top cardinals such as Mahoney fight and mislead all involved, including law enforcement, victims, their families, and parishioners.

For good reason Pope Benedict, during his U.S. visit in April avoided both Cardinal Mahoney in California, and the Diocese of Boston (both hotbeds of clergy sex abuse). The Pope had the good PR sense to avoid both of them.

I mention PR because over the years the Vatican and the Diocese of Los Angeles has hired the most ruthless lawyers and damage-control public relations experts that collection-box money can buy. Mahoney even hired the controversial Michael Sitrick's PR company to run damage control. When the L.A. Times and other publications published this fact, the parishioners forced Mahoney to fire Sitrick, but not until after he had already paid this company $180,000 in 2003 for only three months of services. That's a lot of "collection plate"...

The three law firms that the Diocese keeps on constant retainer, coupled with the recent $660 million settlements paid to sex abuse victims, has caused an outrage amongst many Catholics and law enforcement officials. For the last five years my firm has had to counter much of the misinformation, lies, and illegal actions generated by the Cardinal and his minions.

Pope Benedict's much-heralded meeting with the victims of clerical sex abuse during his April visit to the US was not his idea. The meeting was forced upon the Pope by the victims. These victims, both SNAP members and Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), had demanded a meeting. And if denied, they had promised to demonstrate peacefully everywhere the Pope went.

We were all set to go. Last year, victims of clergy sex abuse from SNAP, had completely surrounded Cardinal Mahoney's $100 million dream cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. They held hands and held a silent vigil. Each adult wore a large photo of him or herself as a child at the time that he/she was raped or molested by one of the Diocese priests or nuns. Yes... nuns! The media had a field day and covered it extensively. So the Vatican knew we meant business.

The Pope finally agreed to meet the victims after pressure from within the Vatican. It came from Archbishop William Joseph Levana, emeritus of San Francisco, recently promoted to the number two man as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. Pressure came from Archbishop Angelo Amato -- secretary of the same office.

And pressure came from Father Federico Lombardi, the devout Jesuit priest who is the new press secretary to the Vatican. Levana is an expert in avoiding prosecution for obstructing justice. He was subpoenaed recently to appear in Federal Court in San Francisco but asked for and received diplomatic immunity. (You see the Vatican is not just a religion -- it's also a country. Helpful when those pesky parking tickets and subpoenas come in...)

After seeing the ultimatum from the victims' organizations in April, these Vatican officials convinced Benedict to meet with the victims. It would take too long to detail here all the requirements and "special conditions" that the Vatican tried to demand for the meeting.

Pope Benedict was very uncomfortable meeting with the five representative victims who had been raped by priests and had their lives and families changed forever. This was a private meeting of course. The Pope was visibly embarrassed and in agony throughout the whole encounter. Benedict promised to end the stall tactics of his Bishops and to speed up the turning over of pedophile priests and secret documents to law enforcement. He promised transparency and a place for Catholic victims of pedophile priests in the so-called Programs of Awareness of Sex Abuse in the Church.

Ultimately that April meeting was just a publicity stunt by Benedict. A faux show of concern for the media. Three months later, not one of his promises has been acted upon. It is as if the meeting never happened.

Before being elected Pope, Benedict was "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger" -- the number two man in the Vatican during the reign of Pope John Paul. It was he who convinced the Pope to never meet with the American victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy because it would lead to "bad press."

And now as Pope Benedict, because of his stonewalling and his shrug of the shoulders, our children still remain at risk. He would rather protect his priests and the Holy Mother Church, than our children.

In any language -- that is just Papal Bull.