Saturday, 29 August 2015



Fr Conor McCarthy
I have just watched the newly ordained Down and Connor (27) priest celebrate the 6.30 pm Mass at St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast.

He came across as balanced, gentle and unassuming and his homily was extremely good for an "L" learner priest.

Watching I was reminded of my own priestly beginnings - forty years ago next June.

It also reminded me of my 5 years of service in St Peter's from 1978 until 1983 and how much I loved the people and my work there - even thought it was at a very different time (The Troubles) than I hope Connor McCarthy has ever to endure.

I was reminded of how absolutely full of the "First Fervour" that I was and how, over the years my enthusiasm took such a knocking from the Institutional Church and from various power hungry bishops and cynical priests.

Thankfully I have never, to date, lost my faith or sense of vocation and I want to be a priest at least as much today as when I entered the seminary in 1970 - 45 years ago. 

If I had to start all over again - I would. But, I would not want to! I would not want to have to face my little boat into such stormy waters again. Thats a journey that is enough for one life time :-)

I sincerely wish Connor McCarthy well and I hope that he has not been spoiled already and that his emergence out into the truly awful clerical world will not hurt or crush him.

He will need all the grace that God can give him and all the guidance the Spirit can provide him with. 

He will also need the love and support of his family and a few good friends. 

As he enters the garden of ministry may he be preserved from the foxes, the wasps and the poisonous plants that abound there!

Friday, 28 August 2015



Several priests of Down and Connor diocese contacted me after my Blog on Father John Paul Lyttle of Portsmouth diocese in England and asked me to write about the sad case of the Down and Connor priest FATHER PAUL LYTTLE (RIP) who died at a young age on 31st January 2005.

PAUL LYTTLE was born in Belfast on 14th March 1968 in St Bernadette's Parish, South Belfast and soon afterwards he and his family moved to Ahoghill. Sadly his poor Dad struggled with alcohol and did not survive to a great age :-( Paul was brought up by his wonderful mother, Attracta, and had four siblings - Ann, John, Joseph and Gregory.

Not only was Father Paul a great athlete but he was also exceptionally bright. He studied at Garron Tower on the Antrim coast and then entered the seminary at The Wing, Saint Malachy's College, Belfast.

At Queen's University, Belfast, he received a BD degree in Scholastic Philosophy and later studied at The Gregorian University in Rome (1990 - 1994).

On July 3rd 1994 he was ordained in Ahoghill by Paddy Walsh - the Bishop of Down and Connor.

After ordination he spent some time as a curate at St. Anne's Parish in Belfast.

Bishop Walsh insisted on sending him to the Catholic University in Washington to study for a Ph.D.

Diocesan priests tell me that Father Paul felt very unhappy and alone in Washington. On a visit home he told staff and students at St Malachy's in Belfast of his unhappiness and of lack of money. Several people, including diocesan priests and family members spoke to Bishop Walsh about his tragic situation in Washington and the fact that he had taken refuge in alcohol. By this time Paul, who had been a slim and athletic figure had ballooned and put on weight, Clearly, he was comfort eating and comfort drinking :-(


In 2004 he was appointed a lecturer in philosophy at Maynooth seminary and university and was given the use of two rooms at St Malachy's College in Belfast.

One Saturday morning his mother and sister visited him at St Malachy's and found him, very ill and lying on the floor! He was taken to the Mater Hospital and died tragically on 31st January 2005. He was only 37!

Many priests and people feel that Father Paul was gravely neglected by Bishop Walsh and the diocese and that his tragic death could have been avoided. Were he alive today he would be in his prime and only 47 years old!

His tragic case reminds me of the verse about the Jesuits:

They join the Order without knowing each other!
They live together without loving each other!
And they die together without mourning each other!

May God forgive those who neglected and let down Father Paul Lyttle! 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015



John Paul Lyttle

JOHN PAUL LYTTLE, a former student priest for the Diocese of Down and Connor, was this year ordained both deacon and priest, in quick succession, by the Roman Bishop of Portsmouth, Phil Egan.

Philip Egan
I have never met John Paul Lyttle but by all accounts he is a nice and a good lad - even if he is somewhat immature or vulnerable.

Sadly for him when he was in Down and Connor diocese he was the victim of an attempted assault by the parish priest of Whitehouse - Father James Donaghy -

Father Donaghy

who later went on to be parish priest of Bangor and later still ended up in prison for the sexual abuse of various victims - including the Down and Connor priest, Father Paddy McCafferty.

Father Patrick McCafferty
John Paul Lyttle fled Down and Connor diocese - still wishing to be a priest and approached the then Roman Bishop of Portsmouth - Crispian Hollis.

Image result for Crispian hollis

Bishop Hollis sent John Paul Lyttle to the English seminary - Oscott College. Eventually there were some problems in Oscott involving staff members and seminarians.

Monsignor Crisp

The Rector of Oscott - Monsignor Mark Crisp - gave John Paul support and encouragement beyond the call of duty.

Bishop Hollis seemed anxious to keep John Paul on as a seminarian for Portsmouth but word among the clergy is that he was opposed in this proposal by the priests who form the "Diocesan Consultors". 

John Paul Left Oscott and spent some time with the Franciscan Order in Ireland and in Africa.

In 2009 John Paul had a very serious accident and the following account appeared in the local Hounslow and Chiswick newspapers.

Trainee priest shows signs of life after 20ft plunge

John Paul Lyttle (far left) with Bishop Philip Boyce and Benito Colangelo
John Paul Lyttle (far left) with Bishop Philip Boyce and Benito Colangelo

A trainee priest who plunged 20ft from a loft window, where he was smoking with three friends, has atonished doctors after showing signs of recovery.
John Paul Lyttle, 28, met the woman and two men, aged between 18 and 21, on Sunday night before they returned to the terraced house in Clifton Road, Isleworth, where he was staying with Reverend Ray Lyons.

Father Ray Lyons
Reverend Ray Lyons
His three pals told officers in a police interview that Mr Lyttle, a talented pianist who was studying for the Catholic priesthood, was sitting on the window ledge before he accidentally fell at about 4am, landing on a concrete patio.
Ambulance crews arrived to find Mr Lyttle with severe head and back injuries. He has been in a coma at Charing Cross hospital ever since, but is believed to have regained some awareness and sense of touch yesterday.
Rev Lyons, fighting back tears, said: “He is a young man of incredible faith, he is an inspiration. We’ve been contacted by people from across the globe, it’s astonishing.
“I have known him for almost 11 years since he started his road to the priesthood. I was his communications director for five years so we have an extremely close friendship.”
Rev Lyons, who has lived in Isleworth for 29 years and had been away at the weekend, said Mr Lyttle was talking to his friends about his faith before he fell.
Detective Inspector Alan Holford, of Hounslow Police, said: “We are still investigating the circumstances but it does appear to be a tragic incident rather than anything sinister. There is nothing to suggest he has been pushed at all.”
Mr Lyttle’s family, originally from Belfast, flew from Guernsey on Monday to be by his bedside along with friends and Rev Lyons.
Ben Colangelo, manager of the Ards Friary, in County Donegal, Ireland, where Mr Lyttle worked in 2007, said everyone at the centre was “absolutely devastated”.
He said: “He was my right hand man for a good many months. He was loved by everybody here, he is a very talented musician, very involved with the parish and the church. We just ask people for their prayers because he is in a critical situation.”
Mr Lyttle travelled to Zambia for six months in October 2007 to work with the poor, before returning to join the Montfort Missionaries of Mary in Southampton.
Mr Colangelo said: “He always wanted to serve the poor and work with the poor. He was there for just under a year and had a change of heart and realised he wanted to be a secular priest and applied to the archdiocese of Birmingham.”
Police cordoned off the building on Monday while officers spoke to neighbours and three other residents in the apartment block.
Det Insp Holford said police were treating the fall as an “unexplained incident,” and forensic officers were still carrying out tests.

Anyone with information should contact Hounslow CID on 0208 2476160, or Crimestoppers.

Anyway it looks as if John Paul, in various ways, and by various means, has managed to succeed in his desire to be a priest.

Does the pic below suggest that Bishop Egan is under threat:

John Paul Lyttle's eventual ordination to the priesthood is nothing short of an unexplained miracle. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015



Patrick Relihan celebrating RTE Mass

FATHER PATRICK RELIHAN the vocations director for the Diocese of Cloyne, Cork, and the curate of Youghal Parish seems to have disappeared from the clergy scene and is now registered on the Cloyne Diocesan WebSite as c/o Bishop's House, Cobh.

Strangely he also appears on another Cork website - in suit and tie - as the "Chief Executive Officer " of a Cork charity called The Matt Talbot Adolescent Services.

Relihan was a very close friend to Bishop John Magee who retired as Bishop of Cloyne in circumstances that can only be described as "overclouded". 

Bishop John Magee
Apparently Patrick Relihan has been the CEO of that charity since January of 2015.

Patrick Relihan was in The Irish College in Rome with Terry Brady, a former member of The Oratory Society.

Terry Brady

I did have occasion to have some correspondence about Father Relihan with Archbishop Dermot Clifford who was in charge of Cloyne from the time that Bishop Magee resigned and the current bishop Willy Crean was appointed. 

Dermot Clifford

You will recall from yesterday's Blog that Willy Crean is the one who has forbidden the silenced priest, Father Tony Flannery from speaking in one of the parishes in Cloyne - Killeagh. 

It is interesting that Father Relihan is described on the diocesan website as being on "sabbatical" and is spending that time running a Cork charity. 

I thought that I had read that Willy Crean had sent Father Relihan for what was called at the time: "further studies".

Every organisation and institution has its own particular euphemisms and over the years it seems to have become apparent that "sabbatical" and "further studies" have been Roman Catholic euphemisms. 

As a friend of mine from Mayo used to say: "If you see a pig with two heads say nothing".

Monday, 24 August 2015



Tony Flannery

This week the Roman Catholic "Bishop" of Cloyne in Cork ordered the parish council of Killeagh Parish not to allow a priest to give a talk to them on where the Holy Spirit is in the current Roman Catholic Church !

Willie Crean
The reason for the "banning" is that Father Flannery has been disciplined by Rome for his views and is not allowed to minister as a priest.


I do not think that Tony Flannery is that radical at all. I think he is like many so called "liberal" priests who tinker around the edge of challenging the Roman institution but have not the courage to go the whole way.

In my view Flannery is a "sixpence each way man". On the one hand he wants to be a trendy liberal and on the other hand he wants to belong to an institution that is as much about Jesus Christ and his message as sausages are related to cheese.

What makes Willie Crean think that he can ban meetings in Ireland in the 21st Century? He is obviously driven by doctrinalism, dogmatism and the abuse of his fast evaporating power. 

The sad thing about is is that there are so few priests and lay people around to tell the Willie Creans of this world to fuck off! (Sorry for the expletive. It is necessary in this case).

Why did the parish priest of Killeagh not tell Mr Crean to get on his bike?

Why did the parish council even meet with Crean? Why did they not tell him to put his crozier where the monkey put his nuts and go ahead with the meeting anyway?

Why did Tony Flannery not go down to Killeagh anyway and hold his meeting in the public street - if necessary standing on a soap box outside the church - or even the pub? 

Of course the reason for this whole episode is that religion IS the opium of the masses.

It is that Roman Catholicism is a semi cult in which leaders abuse their powers and adherents have no courage or balls.

They say that people get the government they deserve.

It is also true that the people of Cloyne diocese have the bishop and church they deserve.

Friday, 21 August 2015



Brittany and Shane

This week I was on my priestly / pastoral travels on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that involved me covering 700 miles and criss-crossing the Emerald Isle.

On Tuesday I travelled from Larne in County Antrim to Ennis in County Clare where I had a meeting with a small group of priests to discuss our experiences in the priesthood and reflect on the future for priesthood, church etc.

On Wednesday afternoon I had the great privilege and pleasure of celebrating the wedding of Brittany and Shane from California, USA at Dromoland Castle near Limerick. 

Dromoland Castle

Brittany and Shane are from California and they wanted married in an Irish castle and by an open-minded and liberal priest. They travelled from the States with sixty two members of their family and friends and we had a wonderful wedding ceremony in Dromoland Castle's walled garden.

After the ceremony the couple were escorted through the castle's grounds to their reception by the castle's horsemen and hounds.

On Thursday I had some Baptisms and Confirmations in Kilkenny and after a further meeting in Dublin made my way home to Larne.

With the increasing number of people becoming disillusioned with the Roman Catholic Church and its abuses and scandals more and more people are looking for alternative ways of celebrating their spirituality - and even their Christianity and their "catholicism" - small "c" of course.

We can have a spirituality, a Christianity and even a "catholicism" without man made empires like The Vatican and the Roman Catholic Empire that has grown as a fast spreading "weed" in the garden planted by Jesus himself and the early church.

We need to get back to basis - to keep the baby of spirituality and faith - and thrown away the dirty water of Rome, the Vatican, church man made laws and the whole money making racket that Roman Catholicism has become.

As someone said some years ago - in another context - we need to get BACK TO BASICS.

That's what my ministry is about.

Saturday, 15 August 2015



Is following Jesus about wearing lace albs, consulting "Mama" about how to wash your new pallium , redesigning your coat of arms and waiting for the call from Rome to come and collect your new red hat?

The prophet Jeremiah in the Bible complained: "Both priest and prophet ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge".

One of the reasons that Roman Catholicism is such a state of decline in Ireland and further afield is that there are very few decent priests in the Church and even fewer prophets.

The Roman Catholic episcopate is packed full of "yes" men and men with very little moral fibre and courage.

I have never met Eamon Martin - and indeed I have no desire to meet him - but I think he must be the weakest and least inspiring "leaders" of Irish Roman Catholicism for generations.

The last incumbent of Armagh that I liked was Tomas O'Fiaich. He and I knew each other well and we had several long conversations - generally over a tray of sandwiches and tea and a couples of Irish whiskeys.

Tomas O'Fiaich

Although I was greatly disappointed with O'Fiaich for his handling of the Father Gerard McGinnity case. Father McGinnity was the dean of Maynooth Seminary who reported the seminary rector Monsignor Michael Ledwith for his homosexual activities with his young students.

Michael Ledwith
The Irish Bishops "solved" the Ledwith scandal in their typically cowardly way. They sent Ledwith to the USA with a bag full of money and they sacked poor Father McGinnity as dean of Maynooth. In other words they killed the poor messenger.

Father McGinnity - victim
 Tomas O'Fiaich was part of the shafting of Father McGinnity. 

I thought that Sean Brady was a very poor leader of the Irish Roman Catholics - that is until Eamonn Martin appeared.

If Eamonn Martin is the best they have - then, as the old Irish people used to say: "God help us all"!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


The lesbian head of a Caritas after school day centre in Bavaria, who lost her job in April because she and her partner planned to register their partnership, can return to her job under a new, revised German Church law.

At the time, her dismissal caused great agitation in Holzkirchen, a small market town south of Munich, especially among the parents of the children attending the center. Mayor Olaf von Löwis says he is "very relieved" that the head of the care center, who wishes to remain unnamed and does not want to speak to the media, can now go back to her job.

Suggestions to stop funding Caritas because of its "discriminating personnel policy" had been made in the town council, von Löwis said.

In April, 23 of Germany's 27 dioceses voted in favor of revising the German church's labor laws. Up to then, church employees could be dismissed from their jobs if they did not live according to the church's moral teaching.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne was one of the first to welcome the revision, which became effective Aug. 1. "The point is to limit the consequences of remarriage or same-sex unions to the most serious cases," he emphasized.

Cardinal Woelki

However, it is up to each diocesan bishop to decide whether he wants to enforce the revised law or not, and each case will still be considered individually.

Three Bavarian bishops, namely the bishops of Passau, Regensburg and Eichstätt, have decided to break ranks.

The wording of the revised law was not precise enough, said Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau. Although it was not a case of "making it easier to throw people in difficult life situations out," he underlined on Facebook, the new law would make it "well-nigh impossible" to dismiss divorced and remarried people and those in same-sex partnerships from church employment.

The new archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, has called for more realism as far as the church's teaching on sexual morality is concerned.

Archbishop Hesse

"We must have an eye on the diversity of present lifestyles in today's society," he told the German dailyKölner Stadt-Anzeiger Aug. 1. He was "hesitant" regarding gay marriage, Hesse said, but if people in same-sex relationships "seek us out, we must of course be here for them."

"What is their image of the church, I wonder?" Hesse asked. "Do we want to be a church that has its place in the middle of the world and take part in people's lives in order to take as many people as possible with us, or do we want a 'church of the pure,' without any existential difficulties or breakdowns? That would be a very, very small flock indeed, with little contact with the world around it."

Meanwhile, 20 priests in the Passau diocese have written an urgent letter to Oster, deploring his decision not to adopt the new law. The previous ruling regarding people who have been divorced and remarried in church employment had led to such an "atmosphere of fear, secrecy and denunciation," they wrote, that some employees did not legalize their second marriages for fear of losing their jobs.

With 700,000 employees, the German church is the second-largest employer in Germany after the state.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Abuse Case Is Opportunity for Pope

- An Argentine court finally sends to prison a priest convicted of child sex abuse in 2009 and defended by the Pope

- This is an opportunity for Pope Francis to be transparent and pastoral

- See our new summary, with translated articles and court documents, of then-Cardinal Bergoglio's involvement in this controversial case

A pedophile priest in Argentina who has stayed free since his criminal conviction four years ago in part because of covert lobbying of judges by the Argentine bishops' conference, headed by then-Cardinal Bergoglio, finally has started serving his 15-year sentence. This week, an Argentine criminal court ordered Father Julio César Grassi immediately to go to prison for molesting a 13-year-old boy in the late 1990s.

According to news reports, Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, led a private campaign to exonerate Grassi and discredit his victims after Grassi was convicted in June 2009. See our analysis of the Grassi case and dossier of articles and documents, which we made public this week. 
Bergoglio and Grassi
Now, as leader of the Catholic church, Pope Francis has an opportunity to order a full account of child sexual abuse by clerics in Argentina, and the cover-up by Argentine bishops. Six months into his papacy, the Pope has addressed financial corruption but not the corrupt shielding of sex offenders by bishops. He has expressed solidarity with nearly every vulnerable population except for those who were sexually abused within the church.

We are especially troubled that the Pope lobbied for Grassi so recently – in 2009 and 2010, years after the worldwide cover-up scandal broke and bishops in the US and Europe began implementing reforms, and soon after Bergoglio was nearly elected Pope in 2005.

Pope Francis in his America interview was contrite about his management failings as provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina during the dirty war, though he doesn’t mention his Jesuit subordinates, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, who were arrested, tortured, and released, let alone Mónica María Candelaria Mignone and her friends, who were arrested with the priests, tortured, and murdered. (See also a Google translation into English of the Mignone page.) The Grassi decision is the moment for Pope Francis to use the discernment also discussed in the interview to bring transparency to his time as a high archdiocesan official, archbishop, and cardinal in Buenos Aires. We urge that he order the release of a complete list of all credibly accused clerics with whom he dealt, both as an archdiocesan official and a Jesuit provincial, and that he compel Argentine bishops and religious superiors to publish similar lists, as 26 US bishops and religious superiors have done.

Pope Francis is no longer cardinal archbishop in a great and deeply Catholic country. He is Pope to all Catholics and inheritor of the revelations and changes obtained by sexual abuse victims from Los Angeles to Dublin and Brussels to Sidney. He is overdue to embrace this legacy and extend it. We assume Pope Francis eventually will meet with clergy sex abuse victims, as Benedict XVI often did. We urge him to set up his first meeting with the victims of Grassi and other victims of Argentine abusers. And we trust that he will exercise his unique power immediately to remove Grassi ex officio from the priesthood. The compassion so evident in Pope Francis’s first half-year as Pope must be extended to the church’s own wounded – in the terms of Francis’s battlefield hospital metaphor – the child victims of “friendly fire.” They are grievously wounded, some of them near death, and they need and deserve Pope Francis’s care.

Grassi was a Salesian until 1991, when he became a priest of the Morón diocese. In 1993, he founded Fundacion Felices los Niños (the Happy Children Foundation), aimed at rescuing street children. According to a news article, the foundation cared for 6,300 children in 17 homes nationwide from 1993 to 2002.
On 11/29/2000, an anonymous complaint filed in the Juvenile Court of Morón accused Grassi of corrupting minors. The case lay dormant until 10/23/2002, when Telenoche Investiga,an investigative news show on Argentina’s Channel 13, aired a program alleging Grassi’s sexual abuse of five boys, ages 11 to 17. It included an interview with a young man, his face obscured, who said that Grassi performed oral sex on him in 1998, when he was 15. Within days, Grassi was arrested and charged with 17 counts of abuse of three boys, who were 9, 13, and 17 when the alleged incidents occurred. Grassi denied all the allegations.
In November 2002, the executive committee of the Argentine bishops’ conference issued a statement denouncing a “campaign” intended to “blur the image” of the Catholic Church and “cause society to lose its trust” in the institution. It warned against making “condemning judgments about individuals or institutions before a fair trial.” Although the statement did not refer to a specific attack, some news analysts interpreted it as the bishops’ response to public uproar about Grassi and the recently arrested Archbishop Storni. The Executive Committee was headed by Archbishop Karlic of Paraná and his first and second vice-presidents, Monsignor Miras of Rosario and Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.
Grassi’s trial, one of the longest in Argentine history, began on 8/20/2008 and lasted for nine months, with testimony from 130 witnesses.  On 6/9/2009, he was found guilty of two acts of aggravated sexual assault and corruption of minors in the case of “Gabriel.” He was acquitted of 15 other counts of abuse of “Luis” and “Ezekiel.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but allowed to remain free pending his appeal. He was prohibited from going alone to his Foundation’s offices and children’s homes but could enter them if accompanied by an individual whom he could designate.
On 6/20/2009, 49 priests and 50 laypeople issued a statement opposing the court’s decision to let Grassi remain free. They also criticized the “silence of ecclesial leaders before this case and others.”  The signers said, “We see that other bishops’ conferences like Colombia’s have spoken up in similar cases, and we do not understand your silence, that has the appearance of ‘hushing up’ and ‘tolerance.’”
On 9/14/2010, the Criminal Appeals Court of Buenos Aires province denied Grassi’s first appeal and confirmed the 15-year sentence. A few days later, the local court in Morón ruled again that Grassi could remain free until his conviction was final. He was prohibited only from entering the offices of the Happy Children Foundation. Subsequent attempts by the prosecutor and victims’ attorneys to have Grassi detained were rejected twice, in November 2010 by the Appeal Court of Morón and in June 2011 by the Criminal Appeals Court of Buenos Aires province.
On 3/9/2012, the bishop of Morón, Luis Eichhorn, wrote to the Court of Morón, asking that Grassi be allowed to transfer back to the Morón diocese. (Grassi had been living somewhere in the diocese of San Justo.) Eichhorn asked specifically if Grassi could live in the town of Hurlingham, at LaBlanquita, a house with a swimming pool and large park, on the same block as the Happy Children headquarters, where Grassi had assaulted Gabriel. On 3/10/2012, the Court granted Bishop Eichhorn's request.
On 4/24/2013, the Criminal Court of Morón ruled affirmatively on a plaintiff’s motion that Grassi had violated conditions of his freedom by referring to a victim in a TV interview. Grassi’s lawyers announced they would appeal the decision. On September 19, 2013, the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires province rejected Grassi's appeal and ratified his 15-year sentence. On September 23, 2013, the Morón Criminal Court No.1 ordered that Grassi immediately go to prison to begin serving his sentence. In February 2014,  Grassi filed a request from prison requesting to be free until the national Supreme Court reviews his case.
As of March 2014, 11 years after his arrest and nearly five years after his conviction, Grassi remains a Catholic priest.
Father Grassi and Cardinal Bergoglio
Throughout the trial, Grassi claimed to be supported by numerous bishops, especially Cardinal Bergoglio, who, he said, “never let go of my hand [and] is always at my side.” Though long a public supporter of the Happy Children Foundation, which ran homes in the Buenos Aires archdiocese, Bergoglio said little to defend Grassi publicly after his arrest. In a 2006 interview with Veintitres magazine, Bergoglio said that "justice will determine" Grassi's innocence, although "there is a media campaign against him, a condemnation in the media." In August 2008, a spokesperson for the Argentine bishops’ conference, then headed by Bergoglio, said that Grassi’s claim of the cardinal’s backing was “an affirmation that he’s making on his own.” He added that the bishops “are respectful of the rule of law” and that innocence must be presumed until proven otherwise.
In a tragic, separate matter involving one of Grassi’s facilities, although not Grassi himself, Bergoglio acted decisively to protect children. In September 2008, an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, Horacio Benites Astoul, apparently reported to law enforcement the suicide of a young person who had been sexually abused by another juvenile at a Foundation facility, the St. Joseph the Worker Home in the city of Buenos Aires. In April 2009, a civil court judge ruled that the children from St. Joseph the Worker must be relocated to a safer environment. When nuns and other St. Joseph staff obstructed attempts to move the children, the judge put the children in the temporary custody of the archdiocese. In May 2009, Bergoglio issued a statement defending the archdiocese’s intervention at St. Joseph the Worker. In a follow-up statement a few days later, however, Bergoglio made clear that his earlier comment pertained only to events at the St. Joseph facility and not to the child molestation case against Grassi himself.
Indeed, after Grassi was found guilty in June 2009, Bergoglio secretly authorized an extensive critical examination of Grassi’s prosecution and of the three original plaintiffs. In his capacity as president of the Argentine Bishops' conference, Bergoglio approved the hiring of a leading criminal defense lawyer and legal scholar, Marcelo Sancinetti, to do the private investigation.
The resulting study vigorously asserted Grassi’s innocence and, according to a Página/12 report, denied even the prevalence of child sexual abuse itself. It reportedly was circulated to judges who had yet to make determinations in the case. The first volume, with 423 pages, debunked the accusations of “Ezequiel,” of which Grassi was acquitted; volume two, with 646 pages, attacked the credibility of “Gabriel,” of whose abuse Grassi was convicted. As of spring 2013, a third volume had been produced, and a fourth and final volume was expected.
The bishops’ commissioned exoneration of Grassi was revealed in December 2011 by Juan Pablo Gallego, an attorney for the Committee for Oversight and Implementation of International Conventions for Children’s Rights, who had represented the plaintiffs at the trial. Gallego called the study a "scandalous instance of lobbying and exerting pressure on the Court" and accused the bishops of "further hindering a process that has outrageously granted the condemned priest a situation of almost unthinkable freedom."
Grassi remained free pending appeal until September 2013, when his second appeal was rejected by the provincial court, and the Morón Criminal Court No.1 ordered that he finally go to prison.


Founded in 2003, is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, and documents the crisis of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It offers an online collection of more than 100,000 pages of church records, legal documents, and media reports. Its hardcopy archive is approaching one million pages. The mission of the organization is to give the public convenient access to information pertaining to the abuse crisis in the U.S. and worldwide. An independent non-profit corporation, is an archive and a data center. It is not a victims' advocacy group or a reform group.

Monday, 10 August 2015


Facts of life and gay relationships still stump the Church

How can Archbishop Martin and his colleagues even consider pastoral care when his own guidelines don’t even acknowledge the existence of homosexuals?

DURING the marriage equality referendum, the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, wondered: If it is successful, “what will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage or about homosexual acts?” I wrote to him at the time, asking him to outline the Church’s current teaching on homosexuals and homosexual acts.

He first referred me to a 16-page document from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference called Guidelines on Relationships and Sexuality Education. This document, he said, is “intended to outline the principles to inform all aspects of such teaching in Catholic schools”.
This document makes no mention of gays, lesbians or homosexuality. It is a document on heterosexuality only. So I replied, asking him for the gay guidelines, to which he responded: “I do not know of any separate set of principles which deals with gay and lesbian orientation.” The archbishop went on to recommend that I “consult the work of author and speaker Christopher West” to get an understanding of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and pointed out that “the teaching on matters of sexuality and marriage is well known and is given in various Church documents”, but didn’t point me to any one particular document.
I took his advice and consulted Mr West.
The archbishop was good enough to include the website address – – in his letter, presumably to make sure I found that exact site.
The f irst article I read on the site was entitled ‘Bono, Ireland and the Eclipse of the Sexual Difference, Part II’.
In it, Mr West makes the following observation on gay relationships: “Two people of the same sex can certainly love one another – I’m all for it! But please tell me, why does that have to involve their genitals?
“There are clearly a great many relationships of love in which the stimulation of genitals has no place in the expression of that love – indeed, to stimulate them would contradict utterly the nature and meaning of love.
“Think of a parent- child relationship; or a brother- sister relationship; or an aunt and her niece. What place does sex have here? ”
I convinced myself that the archbishop didn’t intend me to read that article, so I read another.
This one was called ‘Authentic Love and Ejaculation’, and Mr West gave us this insight: “For example, my son’s classmate insisted that there was nothing wrong with two men loving each other. That is 100pc correct.
“In fact, there is every thing right with two men loving each other. The question is, what does it mean for two men to love each other, and what does that have to do with engaging in sex?
“So, their friendly debate turned to the meaning of love and, after some conversation, they both agreed that a good working definition of love was ‘sacrificing yourself for the good of others’.
He went on to describe in explicit terms how his son then asked his friend to demonstrate how sex with another man “showed self- sacrifice for the good of others”.
Did the Primate of All Ireland really send me to this website? Is this where he gets his information on human sexuality?
I then started on my search for those “Church documents” detailing the “well known” teaching on “matters of sexuality and marriage”.
I found a 2003 document written by Pope Benedict when he was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in which he stated the following: “Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon.
“Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. The homosexual inclination is, however, objectively disordered.
“Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimisation of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalisation of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.
“The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions”.
These aren’t pleasant statements for a gay person to read. The question needs to be asked, no matter how well disposed our Church leaders think they are to homosexuals, whether these words and language justify and/or encourage homophobia in others?
In the aftermath of the referendum, the Archbishop said “among the many lessons that we as Church can learn from the referendum debate is to re- commit ourselves to the pastoral care of anyone in society who experiences victimisation and stigmatisation”.
How can he even seriously consider pastoral care when his own guidelines don’t even acknowledge the existence of homosexuals?
How can he and his colleagues ignore and stand over ignoring the research which shows gay children are five times more likely to be medicated for depression and three times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers?
This collective ‘ bury our heads in the sand’ approach is not acceptable from an institution which controls 90pc of the primary schools in Ireland. Schools in which there are approximately 50,000 young gay men and women in today.
The archbishop’s promise of “re- commitment to pastoral care” is meaningless without him and his bishops first addressing the words and language used in respect of homosexuals within the Church.
A good place to start would be for him and his fellow bishops to tell us, in advance of their participation in the Synod in October, whether they agree or disagree ( yes or no answers will suffice) with Pope Benedict’s 2003 statements – this will give us a good indication of where they stand and whether their commitment to the pastoral care of the gay community is credible and respectful.