If You Are Accused of Abuse, Are You Automatically Guilty? Pope Francis and An Important Story to Remember

Pope Francis : false accusation : Spain

Oops. All those priests were actually innocent.

In what has now become another eruption of outright media hysteria, let us pause for just a moment to revisit a very instructional episode from a few years back involving Pope Francis and some accused priests in Spain.

It was a front page story in the New York Times. In late 2014, responding to an emotional letter he had just received, Pope Francis personally telephoned a 25-year-old man from Spain going by the name of "Daniel." Daniel – whose real name turned out to be David Ramírez Castillo – had written to Francis claiming that he and others had been sexually abused repeatedly years earlier as children by a ring of pedophile priests.

Here were some of the headlines at the time:

  • "Letter to Pope uncovers pedophile network in Spain" (Cruxnow.com, Nov. 18, 2014);
  • "Ten Catholic priests are charged with sexually abusing four altar boys in Spain after one of the alleged victims wrote to the Pope" (Daily Mail, Jan. 28, 2015);
  • "'I Am Father Jorge': Pope Phones A Sex-Abuse Victim and Causes a Stir in Spain" (Aleteia, Nov 20, 2014);
  • "In Spanish Abuse Scandal, a More Open Vatican," (NYT (front page), Feb. 14, 2015).

Acting upon Francis's urging, Spanish law enforcement promptly launched a criminal investigation and soon claimed that it had "uncovered a criminal network of pedophiles that involves at least 12 people among priests and laity from different parishes in the Spanish city of Granada."

And if there were still any doubt about the veracity of the accusations, the Times made sure to report that Castillo's abuse was "supported by one other plaintiff as well as by several witnesses." Indeed, some ten priests were indicted for either abusing Castillo or "covering up" the priests' alleged crimes.

Then came the truth

In the end, however, Castillo's entire claim turned out to be completely bogus. None of the abuse that attracted the Pope's personal attention and international headlines was true. Nada. It was all a crock.

In 2017, three years after the original accusations, a Spanish court issued an exhaustive 81-page ruling exonerating all of the accused priests. The report explained that Castillo's accusations were not just false for a lack of evidence, but they also were "completely implausible" as well as "contradictory, hesitant and uncorroborated." The court's report also listed several events and details from the accuser that were proved to be outright false.

Remember: the New York Times had published the claim that there were "several witnesses" to the abuse. But there weren't any. It was complete bunk. The reputations of numerous Spanish priests were shattered by the Times and others. For a reason God only knows, the accuser made the whole story up.

Michael Cook, editor at MercatorNet, has an excellent article with the apt title, "Let's all take a chill pill." "Catholics need to get a grip and take a calmer look at the crisis in their Church," Cook writes. He is exactly right.

Are you listening, Catholic media? Maybe you should remember the case in Spain before mindlessly regurgitating wild claims from the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report about priests sodomizing kids with crucifixes and forcing oral sex. Maybe some of these events didn't happen.

Comments

  1. Dan says:

    The LA archdiocese was court-ordered to release 12,000 pages on file which led Archbishop Mahony's successor Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2013 to bar Mahony from administrative or public duties in the archdiocese, "I find these files to be brutal and painful reading." Gomez wrote. "The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed."

    In a statement after Pennsylvania grand jury report's release, Bishop Oscar Solis expressed "personal shame, distress and anger concerning the sexual abuse committed by some of our priests, bishops and Church leaders against our children, young people and adults whom we are supposed to serve and to protect. It is distressing that some leaders have mishandled allegations of abuse, covered up such sinful acts and were not held accountable."

    Are we still going with ' "Let's all take a chill pill."? "Maybe these events didn't happen."? These are just a few dioceses among how many in the U.S. and around the world? Instead of a "chill pill", we should try truth serum and polygraph tests on all your priests and bishops.

    • GR says:

      Dan not sure what your point is.  Should we polygraph the dead priests from the 1950s and 60s?  It was a problem no one is doubting that.  But is it a problem today or do some just want to keep walking down memory lane for their own ideological reasons?  And why no concern about sex abuse in homes where 95% of it occurs?  Take a chill pill Dan.

    • Dan says:

      The crimes of child molestation were reported in a timely fashion in several cases decades ago while priests were still living, according to your own church files. If the Church wasn't so busy protecting its reputation and secretly paying off victims, this would have never escalated into the problem it is now. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg and the Catholic Titanic is heading straight towards it. Pretty stupid to make such a comment that I would want dead priests polygraphed. I wouldn't mind seeing the excusers and deniers in this forum given a truth serum. Probably the only way we could ever get truth out of them.

  2. LLC says:

    Dan,

    This blog is about how some priests are wrongly accused, not how some others are guilty of awful crimes, which is, again, something that Catholics have no problem admitting, wishing that it didn’t happen, but are nevertheless eager to let justice run its course.

    Archbishop Jose Gomez’ quote (“The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.") and Bishop Oscar Solis’ quote (“…sexual abuse committed by some of our priests, bishops and Church leaders…”) shows how they see the difference. Apparently, you are unable to do.

  3. Otto says:

    This is why due process is important. Unfortunately we are going through a period of moral panic about sex crimes. Mix that with widespread anti-Catholicism within a traditional media that is looking for juicy stories to shore up declining business, the rise of social media where anyone can be a “journalist” and an unscrupulous political class along with ferocious ideological battles among Catholics who are trying to take advantage of the latest crisis to score points and you have a very toxic brew indeed.

    Pope Francis has stated that priests need to be given the benefit of due process. He is absolutely right. All of the people baying for blood, including many Catholics, would want and expect due process to apply to them if they were accused of a heinous crime. But the image of the pervert priest is now so powerful that any member of the clergy accused of wrongdoing is immediately declared guilty on the power of mere accusation alone. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, or how outlandish the claims are, or whether they were dredged up via pseudoscientific recovered memory therapy that also convinces people that they were abducted by space aliens. If you are a cleric and you are accused of wrongdoing you are guilty no matter what.

    • Aloysius says:

      I couldn’t agree more that priests accused of sexual abuse have a right to “due process” both by the criminal justice system, and their diocesean leadership.  However, the US bishops have made a practice of avoiding due process by negotiating settlements with individual accusers as well as settlements encompancing large groups of accusers.  Why?  In order to avoid court costs, depositions and the fishing expeditions of records by plaintive lawyer’s demands for discovery.  In doing so, the accused priests are thrown under the bus. 

    • Dan says:

      "Due process" should have happened a long time ago, but the Church chose to perform their own unjust justice in order to keep the dirt out of the eyes of the public, allowing criminal priests and bishops to go unpunished, further exacerbating this catastrophe. 

  4. malcolm harris says:

    The comment from LLC, on the 10th, is very relevant, but not in the way he thinks. Yes, his quotes from the two Bishops were probably accurate, but he has failed to understand the tightrope they are now having to walk.. Lawyers and insurers would have insisted that the public perception is of paramount importance. Meaning that if the Church leadership appeared sceptical or indifferent ,to the alleged victims, then the public perception would be even worse than it already is. The mainstream media has done such an effective job of brainwashing the public, that anything less than sincere sympathy, is seen as being callous.  And our human nature being what it is…..the average person sees this sympathy as tacit admission that the abuse actually happened.  Which probably explains most of the past settlement payouts. A situation that some rapacious lawyers have exploited to the utmost. Nevertheless my considered opinion is that most of these claims are either grossly exaggerated or completely fraudulent.

  5. This post is indefensible because it is an obvious intentent to distarct from the charges brought by Vigano and which statement has aught to do with the contents of this post.

    Bergolio was also creditably charged with similiar actions as Arch Bishop in Argentina.

    It is over for Bergolio and the sodomitic sex system must go with him.  All sodomite clerics must be laicised and excommunikctaed and turned over to the state for prosecution.

    In better days, the Church used to burn sodomies in a square in Rome and those days should be brought back as sodomy is a sin crying to Heaven for Vengeance and this clesr attempt to redirect our attention is pathetic.

    Of course not everyone accused is automatically guilty but such a rhetorical proposition presumes Bergolio is possibly being falsely accused.

    HA!!!!!

    • Jim Robertson says:

      Sodomy has been around longer than you or your version of God, Amatuer. That's simply the truth. Now as far as " a sin crying to Heaven for Vengence" goes. Have you been operating on yourself again? Because that's some crazy shit. If God let it happen he already knows and obviously could care less. But if u r confusing adults choosing sodomy as an adult choice and the sexual abuse of children? u r an ignorant bigot.

       

  6. malcolm harris says:

    'Amateur Brain Surgeon', on the 11th, has tacitly acknowledged that most of us are laymen (or amateurs) in this particular area of scandal and debate. However those who really think about justice would know that…."There is  no crime unless there is compelling evidence of a crime". This happens to be a bedrock tenet of western justice. It protects us all, because without it we could be destroyed by our rivals and enemies. A rival in the workplace, a hostile neighbour,  almost anybody who thinks he can accuse us of a crime. Even though there is "no compelling evidence."  So the law insists that a crime must really have been committed… before we can be accused. But what is the "compelling evidence" re these alleged crimes in the Grand Jury report? Zero compelling evidence…only accusations accumulated over the last 70 years or so. However is a unproven accusation enough to condemn a Catholic priest?. Yes…it appears so?. But only in the minds of the prejudiced…. also some publicity- seeking journalists, and some lawyers and some politicians.

    • Dan says:

      Apparently Malcolm, you never read the Grand Jury report. "Zero compelling evidence"? Even if you overlook Shapiro's comments, the correspondence between bishops, chancellors and priests that even admitted to their guilt of sexually assaulting children, some violently, is obvious and very "compelling evidence". Enough of your lies and denials.

    • Dan says:

      And funny you mention it, Malcolm, I was falsely accused by two "hostile" catholic "neighbors", a few catholic priests, couple of catholic nuns, threatened by a corrupt catholic cop and beaten from behind by four catholic thugs, too bad they were a bunch of cowardly wimps. Never thought Church lying hypocrites would ever stoop to such a level to falsely accuse the innocent and pile on the lies in order to increase my punishment. Add to that all the horrible crimes against innocent children and the way they were treated afterwards and somethin' tells me the Church is getting exactly what they deserve. Open all your secret files and let all see the truth of what lies hidden in the darkness. Shine down your light Lord Jesus.

    • Mr. Harris did not respond to the point that Bergolio has been credibly accused by Vigano in Rome and others in Argentina and so Mr. Harris has to focus on Pennsylvania where, presumably, we are expected to assume all charges are false.
       

      Where there is impenetrable smke there is no fire…

  7. Glenna Kerker says:

    Let's not forget that along with the blacks, Jews and Homosexuals,  Catholics were targetted by the KKK in days long past.  Those robes and hoods were worn by those who feared Catholics.  Perhaps Priests are the only remaining group left to attack in 2018.  Even when they are dead and buried.  SAD

    • Dan says:

      If you call uncovering and exposing the truth means to be attacked then so be it. Most all priests, bishops, pedophiles and perverts are only getting the justice they so rightly deserve. And as usual we've yet to see much of the punishments they are due. We're waiting! SADDER THAN SAD!

  8. malcolm harris says:

    Responding to 'Amatuer Brain Surgeon'  on the 13th September.  No… am not asking people to assume that all the acusations in Pennysalvania are false. But am asking that all this media-driven hysteria doesn't obscure the fact that the accusastions are unproven.  And just ask yourself this…..would you personally like to be condemned by unproven acccusations?.  Or worse still….. have your entire profession smeared to the point that you are assumed guilty simply by belonging to that profession? This witch-hunt is starting to take on a diabolical momentum of it's own. But anyway am still betting on the Church to survive this particular persecution…. as it outlasted all previous diabolical attacks over the last 2,000 years.

    • Dan says:

      One has to love your choice of words, Malcolm. What is "diabolical", satanic and demonic is the fact that so many priests raped and molested so many children over many decades under the watchful eye of bishops who gave them a free pass to continue their crimes by sending them to unknowing churches in other dioceses. This exposure does not equate to a 'witch-hunt', 'persecution' or 'diabolical attacks', when the perpetrators of the Church are obviously guilty of most of the accusations. Take off your rose-colored glasses, it's time to face the truth. The denials and unwillingness to face the truth is the very reason why the Church is in the mess they're in.

  9. malcolm harris says:

    The comment by Glenna Kerker, on September 12, rang a bell with me. This lady told us that Catholics were targetted by the KKK, and not just the blacks and other minorities. The pages of history throw up some interesting things. A biography of a soldier revealed that he was captured by the Turks, in 1916, and thrown into a prison camp. But his fellow prisoners were French, not English. The explanation was that all Catholics had to be confined together. And fast forward  to the fifties….a communist spy confessed that he had to discover which Australian journalists were Catholics and send a detailed list to Moscow. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that those engaged in social engineering…. are still targetting Catholics.

  10. Guy says:

    The "Dan " in our comments section is a former head of  SNAP-they have been trashed by Rev. Jiang in St Louis for falsely accusing him of abuse-d we NNVER heard this story on TV or Papers.

    THis isnt the first time SNAP has been called on the carpet for lying about who's an abuser and who isn't..

     

    • Dan says:

      "The 'Dan' in [your] comments section" has never been in charge of SNAP, nor have I ever been a member of the group. I have absolutely no affiliation with any organization, secular or spiritual. I am a God believing, Spirit filled, Bible following Christian, who hopes that many will come to know the healing power of God's goodness and truth. I realize, Biblically speaking, "That the road is narrow and difficult that leads to life, and few will ever find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."  Matthew 7:14-16

      Contributing to this "comments section" and from the many responses, slurs and false accusations, I must admit that this quote rings true. I'll keep doing my Father's work until Judgment Day, when all will realize that all my time spent spreading His truth was without any worldly compensation, for only those will come to the Father whom He chooses. Coming to know Him, the power of His wisdom and precious gift of His Son, will never leave anyone disappointed.

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