Thursday, March 7, 2013

Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) . . . it's your turn to come clean

It pains me to see a man fall from grace, to be characterized on his misdeeds, instead of the totality of his life. Such is the case of Cardinal O'Brien, whose sexual misconduct has been exposed. In spite of initial statements denying the allegations, Cardinal O'Brien finally relented, admitted his guilt and apologized for his misconduct. Hopefully, his victims, however traumatized, will reach closure on these dark and heinous episodes of their lives. Correspondingly, Cardinal O'Brien should be held accountable for his sexual offenses. Allowing him to retire into oblivion, as the Church is wont to do, would simply add insult to injury.

The case of Cardinal O'Brien has increased the public's awareness of other atrocities within the secretive and self-protective confines of the Vatican and the global Roman Catholic hierarchy.

"Vatican Inc." is a brief documentary on the financial improprieties at the Vatican's own bank, the Institute of Religious Works (IOR). Until now, the IOR has operated with few of the regulations that govern the activities of banks all over the world, with increasingly disturbing consequences. In the 1980's, the IOR was involved in an infamous fraud scandal, the Banco Ambrosiano affair, which made global headlines when its chief, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from a bridge in London, a murder that has never been solved. More recently, Italian state prosecutors have been investigating allegations of money laundering at the IOR, freezing accounts, seizing funds and putting its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, under scrutiny.

Tedeschi was ousted in a boardroom coup last May 2012. At that time, the board issued a statement that he had not been up to the job. Tedeschi, a former head of Banco Santander in Italy, contended that he had been thwarted in his transparency efforts. Guess who's telling the truth?

Not surprisingly, the following excerpt from a New York Times article published on February 15, 2013 smacks of irony.

“In one of his last official acts, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday named Ernst von Freyberg, a German aristocrat and industrialist, as the new head of the Vatican Bank, reducing the Italian presence in a secretive institution that has struggled to restore its credibility and meet international transparency norms.”

“The Rev. Federico Lombardi, theVatican spokesman, said that the hire was “a sign of rigor, objectivity, competence and transparency that the Holy See is committed to giving” the bank. The appointment of a new bank chief came after the board had ousted the previous president for poor performance and after Italian prosecutors had spent more than two years investigating the bank on charges relating to money laundering, which the bank has denied.” Ya, right!

"Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" is a documentary about real-life horrors--the sexual abuse and cover-ups that have tortured countless innocents. It begins by focusing on a single case--a priest who, for decades, abused boys at a Wisconsin boarding school for the deaf. Then, it widens its gaze to similar horrors taking place in Ireland, Italy and Latin America. Then, it uncovers the pattern of deceit that denied the victims help and virtually ensured their abusers could continue the assaults.

Will the Roman Catholic hierarchy ever get serious about eradicating these anomalies? In case you haven't noticed, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has deftly remained "outside the radar screen" of these global scandals and has likewise skillfully deflected its atrocities that have come to light in the press.

Whatever happened to Monsignor Garcia?

It's just a matter of time before the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines is placed on the hot seat, for why should it be spared when the rest of its brethren all over the world are being compelled to come forth and to come clean.

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