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28 November 2008


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The movie The Verdict, starring Paul Newman, was based on a real malpractice case that occurred at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

The religion was changed to Catholicism in the movie.

The patient's name was Edabeth Katz.


different clue

If the Catholic Church were to shrink (or disappear) it would leave behind a large (or unfillable) vacuum. My feeling is that this would be extremely dangerous, even
though I am not able to say specifically why.

Is there a last-ditch mechanism by which the Laity
can impeach and replace sections of the Hierarchy? Or even all of it if that is what it takes to save the
Church? Remove a compromised Hierarchy and install or evolve-into-place
a new non-compromised Hierarchy? Can huge sections of the Laity maintain a "Church in Extremis" or a "Church in Emergency"?

I am not Catholic (obviously) so I don't know how these things work, or can work, or can be made to work. I hope a Lay Leadership and Membership can figure this out fast enough to matter.


As a non-Catholic, I have had great admiration for John XXIII. His work seemed to bring a bright new day to millions of Catholics and those who related to them.

I find it incredibly sad that this document could come from him, and only hope that further investigation will reveal that a rogue element issued this without his knowledge. Given the broad distribution this had, I realize that hope to be but a dim one.

Paul in NC

I was raised in the Catholic Church. I left it as soon as I was old enough to think for myself. It's becoming clear to me that within the Catholic priesthood pedophilia is an ancient,endimic problem. This forty year old document reinforces that belief.

I don't mean to disparage all priests. But does anyone really believe this is a late twentieth century problem?

John Moore

Well, weren't certain abuses by the Roman Catholic Church an impetus for the Protestant Reformation, whereby Christianity became individualized to an extent? Did not Christ himself urge his followers to look within themselves for God and not rely upon temples and priests? Who is the greater fool, the victims who went to the Church first to report the crime rather than the local police and are then sworn to secrecy (covering up a crime), or the bishops and priests who knew what they were doing was wrong? How is the Roman Catholic Church different from a corporation that suppresses knowledge of criminal activity by its own executives in order to maintain its public image? The difference is miniscule because the underlying reason for doing it is the same - people in power wish to remain in power while maintaining the illusion that nothing's wrong.The institution, be it a church or corporation, would survive the scandal regardless, but individual reputations would not.

frank durkee

Since I have been hanging around religious circles as a professional since the late '50's, it seems to me that the same basic pattern prevailed in most denominations until about 30 years ago. Deal with it privately and out of the public eye, get the abused person to vow to secrecy and proceed as thogh nothin had happenned. This is the pattern outlined in the so called "document". This pattern was followed in both hetero and same sex situations and usually with those younger than consent.
I'm not seeking toeither explain or justify this pattern. it was 'the way of that world until fairly recently. In that sense the pattern does not surprise me. What does is having an "official document implementing it as official policy". Somehow that rings less true to me. I am not a Roman Catholic and I am a member of an heirachical church.


Don't bother to write to tell me that you are an atheist and that we have all merited this by our gullibility. That would be a trivial comment.

How about this, then? Anyone who claims to be infallible has a big image problem. If the Pope's infallible, how can someone who is infallible set up a system of selecting priests that doesn't catch pedophiles ahead of time? The only way I know to make that objection go away is to cover up the evidence that he made a mistake.

I think most Catholics are smart enough to see that the Pope is human. Most of the ones I have any dealings with are, anyway.

Nevertheless, this is one of the many reasons I'm an atheist. In the end, you have to ignore stuff that you know isn't true in order to believe in just about any religion.


The fact that the Vatican maintains "secret archives" says a lot, I think.

Wonder what else is in there...


I'm stunned, heartbroken. I'm an ex-catholic, an atheist, but I always admired him and Fr. Damien as moral exemplars.
Oh well. There haven't been any scandals about Blessed Damien, have there?

Patrick Lang


The depth of the Church's self degredation is shown by references in these comments to medieval simony, sale of indulgences and modern corporate filth. pl


This reference is the first that I have read of this particular document. And I find it disheartening. Although long alienated from the church, some of the most enthusiastically human and loving people of my youth were nuns and lay teachers at my Catholic high school. They were inspired by the accepting and outward looking example of John XXIII. The reality though is that depending on a fallible human being to embody any body of faith will lead to some disillusion. Thus the necessity some personal responsibility for the embodiment of a tradition and a concomitant reevaluation of the relationship with the hierarchy.


Different Clue:

How about an Avignon Papacy Part Deux, starting right here in the US of A?

Richard Armstrong

1. I am a "cradle" Southern Baptist.

2. I married a lovely Catholic girl and together we have raised our daughters in the Catholic faith.

3. I attended RCIA (Right of Catholic Initiation) to completion and chose not to change faiths for personal reasons of faith.

With these points admitted up front I'd like to ask that anyone who attempts to speak to "Papal Infallability" take a very, very few minutes to become more informed about the principle. Simply put, the Pope is "infallible" in very, very few instances involving divine revelations. Since the adoption of the principle in 1870, it has only been invoked once - in 1950 when the Assumption of Mary was defined as an article of faith.

The letter from the Pope to the Archbishops mentioned above was not and is not covered by the principle of Papal Infallibility.

With the advent of the internet giving anyone with a curious mind almost instantaneous access to information, the continued promulgation of inaccurate beliefs is very nearly inexecusable.

I would suggest that anyone wanting to learn more about how good men in worthy institutions can make terrible decisions take the time to learn about the "Iron Law of Institutions".


Richard Armstrong

COL, please feel free to append these comments to my previous comment.
To all who have felt it "necessary" to leave their faith because the heirarchy of that faith has failed to meet your personal metrics.

How many of you are willing to give up your American citizenship because of actions of our Government of the past eight years?

Are you still an American after learning that we torture?

Are you still an American after learning that we kidnap and imprison people without due process?

Are you still an American after learning the NSA spies on Americans without warrants?

Are you still an American after learning the FBI abuses "National Security Letters"?

Are you still an American after observing the damage our leaders have done to the rule of law?

Are your beliefs and actions consistent and equivelant?


John XXIII died in 1963, correct? So how did this "forty-year-old" document show up bearing his seal?


The document is not really new for those following this story over the past six or so years. It is the basis of a Federal Court decision in pre-trial matters, I believe it is a Kentucky Case, that will allow the lawyers to take the deposition of the Vatican Authorities. The previous Pope and this one too have put much pressure on Bush, and the DoJ to "do something" about this order to submit to deposition -- but the order still stands.

You can read all about the document at the website, BishopsAccountability. I believe there are several other cases where the lawyers have requested deposition orders, and these are under advisement. In plain language, the Vatican document orders not only Priests and Bishops, but all catholics to violate state and Federal law, where any sort of "duty to report" abuse of minors is on the books. (Teachers, Psychologists, etc.,) If the issue is eventually appealed it will become a very significant church-state case.


John XXIII???

Sigh. Former Catholic here. If I weren't "former" already, this would probably have done the trick.

As for the present state of the Church?

Mix politics and religion in equal parts. Stir well. Simmer for 1700 years. This is the mess that results? My advice would be to not use that particular recipe.

Since this is the road evangelical Protestantism has been walking down in America these last 50 years, this should be construed as a cautionary tale.


Last week I had dinner with a Baptist pastor from Ecuador. He "informed" me that God and religion have nothing to do with each other. One is spiritual, the other is organizational.


I like how the document employs the term "unspeakable crime". True enough.

When I was going to catholic grade school, by the time I was eight, thanks to two older brothers, one of whom was an alter boy, I knew who not to get 'caught alone' with. (it was not precisely clear to me then what would happen if you got "caught alone", just that you should never let it happen. Go to the bathroom. Get outside, whatever, but get away) Not implying that this intel was dead on. But it was close. And it was known in a widespread, but haphazard, manner. The 'wise guy' kids were the most likely to know the intel. Or, perhaps, only the most likely to talk about what they knew/heard, anyway. I wondered then...and wonder now, why did the leadership allow it go on. Sorta the 8 year old saying to himself, 'well, if Mickey O'Donnell knows, and his Pa knows, and I know, and my brothers know, why doesn't the Monsignor know? Why doesn't Mikey's Ma know? Does she know? Mikey says no. Why don't MY parents know? Why does Billy, my brother, say not to tell them?'

No answers then. The 'answers' came later.

d. m. nolan

This piece from the Guardian is over 5 years old. What made you decide to comment on it at this time ?


I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. Mine was spent with my Catholic parents in Sacramento, CA. My mother is still upset about the passing of Proposition 8, denying the right of homosexuals to marry in California. My older sister is in a committed same-sex relationship and my mom was steamed about her Church's activities in keeping equal rights from her daughter.

My parents practice their Catholicism at a Newman Center, which is a movement of progressive Catholics found on their hometown college campus. My parents do not believe in the infallibility of any Pope and do not agree with most of the Church's current teachings, apart from a New Testament love of Jesus and his peaceful message. But the coming schism in Catholicism is perfectly exemplified by them and their congregation. I can't imagine this revelation will do much to keep the First World Catholic Church connected to the Third World Catholic Church.

This is my response to Richard Armstrong, who made very strong points with his two posts. Are we still Americans if we torture? Well, I have a Chancellor of Mississippi in my ancestry who talked Jefferson Davis into the Presidency of the Confederacy. I own their crimes as well, but nobody better call me a slaveholder, for I am not.

Churches and states die off when they no longer represent any meaningful population. America itself was running straight for that cliff's edge up to a few weeks ago. We may not have identified ourselves as Americans or defended the flag much longer if things had continued as they were. In the Vatican, things are continuing as they were.

I walked away from my parents' church when I was twelve years old on the written advice of Clarence Darrow, whose father told him: "When deciding whether to believe in something first doubt it. Then if it survives the test of your doubt, believe in it."

Christianity has been arguably the single most important and successful organization in the history of the world. In the last five years we are now realizing this ancient empire has been entirely in the closet.


Canid wrote ...

To all who have felt it "necessary" to leave their faith because the heirarchy of that faith has failed to meet your personal metrics.

How many of you are willing to give up your American citizenship because of actions of our Government of the past eight years?

Canid, you're comparing apples and oranges.

Bad thinking. Sorry, but it is.

You can "leave the Catholic Church" by simply walking away and refusing to attend services.

You can "leave America" only by emigrating to a county that'll accept you. This is both a harder and a trickier proposition. The consequences are more serious, more imponderable, and more liable to be permanent.

(1) Which countries would make better places to be citizens of?

(2) Which countries are willing to accept American emigrants?

(3) Which countries would accept you, specifically?

(4) Which countries are feasible from the practical standpoints of available work and places to live?

A candidate would have to be in the intersection of all these sets, and probably more I have not enumerated, in order to make the cut.

This is a physical as well as an affiliation change, with all that implies.

William R. Cumming

No Sainthood for John XXIII perhaps? The first criminal indictment of a Priest for sexual predation in the United States was in Arlington County, VA in the early or mid-80's. This triggered the whole issue in the public mind in my opinion. The Priest worked in DC and the child was in Arlington. I believe the Commonwealth Attorney (Prosecutor) was Helen Fahey.


John XXIII. Among other things, he was the first Pope in quite some time who didn't think people like me (Anglicans) would be going to hell. Vatican II was a huge deal, and there was a good reason why he was called the Good Pope. Now this.

Some of the holy orders are still OK. The Jesuits and Franciscans are still "real police," as The Wire would put it. One can only hope that the Jesuits have a plan to seize control.

Richard Armstrong, I left a Church because of extreme homophobia once. I'm not gay, it was just unbearable. And yes, some people did emmigrate from the US over torture, not many but I respect the princiipled decision of those who did. If you're going to stay in a bad institution, you have to figure out how you'll work to change things.


Col. Lang:

Remote as it might be, given that Vatican II was not well received throughout the Catholic Church that Benedict is known for his conservative outlook on doctrinal matters and that the Curia is known for its secret if not conspiratorial ways, what are the possibilities that the 40 year old document is a forgery designed to smear and raise questions about the overall judgment of John XXIII? What better way to loosen the ties that many within the Church have towards him in order to gain support for changes that he would have opposed?

"Too much religion and not enough Faith."

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