Friday, 25 August 2017

POTIPHAR'S WIFE is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the handling of the sexual abuse of by Catholic priests and how the crisis has been handled/mishandled by The Vatican and Catholic bishops.



SEMINARY: Kieran Tapsell, far right. Jim Fletcher, convicted of child sex offences in 2005, is sitting down next to him wearing glasses.


The ‘cover-up’ of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church has been occurring under the pontificate of six popes since 1922. For 1500 years, the Catholic Church accepted that clergy who sexually abused children deserved to be stripped of their status as priests and then imprisoned. A series of papal and Council decrees from the twelfth century required such priests to be dismissed from the priesthood, and then handed over to the civil authorities for further punishment.That all changed in 1922 when Pope Pius XI issued his decree Crimen Sollicitationis that created a de facto ‘privilege of clergy’ by imposing the ‘secret of the Holy Office’ on all information obtained through the Church’s canonical investigations. If the State did not know about these crimes, then there would be no State trials, and the matter could be treated as a purely canonical crime to be dealt with in secret in the Church courts. Pope Pius XII continued the decree. Pope John XXIII reissued it in 1962. Pope Paul VI in 1974 extended the reach of ‘pontifical secrecy’ to the allegation itself. Pope John Paul II confirmed the application of pontifical secrecy in 2001, and in 2010, Benedict XVI even extended it to allegations about priests sexually abusing intellectually disabled adults. In 2010, Pope Benedict gave a dispensation to pontifical secrecy to allow reporting to the police where the local civil law required it, that is, just enough to keep bishops out of jail. Most countries in the world do not have any such reporting laws for the vast majority of complaints about the sexual abuse of children. Pontifical secrecy, the cornerstone of the cover up continues. The effect on the lives of children by the imposition of the Church’s Top Secret classification on clergy sex abuse allegations may not have been so bad if canon law had a decent disciplinary system to dismiss these priests. The 1983 Code of Canon Law imposed a five year limitation period which virtually ensured there would be no canonical trials. It required bishops to try to reform these priests before putting them on trial. When they were on trial, the priest could plead the Vatican ‘Catch 22’ defence—he should not be dismissed because he couldn’t control himself. The Church claims that all of this has changed. Very little has changed. It has fiddled around the edges of pontifical secrecy and the disciplinary canons. The Church has been moonwalking.


1.   Acknowledgment
2.   Introduction
3.   Chronology of Church Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children
4.   Potiphar’s Wife
5.   Sex and the Confessional
6.   The Murder in the Cathedral
7.   Canon Law
8.   The Canonical System of Trials
9.   Canon Law on Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children
10.   The Secrecy Provisions of Canon Law
11.   Misprision of Felony
12.   Mandatory Welfare Reporting
13.   Law and Culture
14.   The Ineffectiveness of the Church Processes
15.   The Practical Application of Canon Law
16.   The Cardinals Defend the Privilege of Clergy
17.   Bishops Conferences: Sexual Abuse Protocols and the Vatican
18.   The Defence of Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI
19.   Benedict’s Pastoral Letter: Blame the Bishops
20.   The Cloyne Report in Ireland
21.   Some Theological Problems with Facing the Truth
22.   The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Report
23.   The Australian Royal Commission
24.   A Greek Tragedy: Not Facing the Truth 

Index of Subjects Index of Names


To my mind this is a vital read for anyone wanting to understand the dynamics behind the sexual abuse of children by priests and the cover up following that abuse by priests, bishops and The Vatican.

Tapsell, a Catholic, who studied for the priesthood and later became a lawyer and a judge deals with the topic exhaustively and with the forensic mind of a very experienced lawyer.

He deals with:

The actual abuse.

The cover up.

The role of The Vatican and canon law.

The theology of priesthood behind it all.

The dynamics of the Clerical Club.

The book is available from Amazon but was published in Australia.

The cheapest and quickest way to get it and read it is on KINDLE.

Tapsell deals with the problem globally and addresses the Irish experience.


He also highlights how Archbishop Diarmuid Martin blamed the Irish Bishops and said that the Vatican was not to blame.

Another attempt by Diarmuid to get a red hat?


Image result for kieran tapsell


Sex abuse and the seal of the confessional
Aug 18, 2017

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal justice system. In the course of that report, it recommends mandatory reporting of all suspected child sexual abuse within institutions and the creation of new offences of failing to take proper care to prevent such abuse.
One recommendation that understandably created some media interest is that there should be no exemption to the reporting requirements for information provided in confession.
The commission’s report produces convincing evidence, not only in Australia, but also overseas, that priest sex abusers used confession as a means of assuaging their guilt. It made it easier for them to repeat their crimes because confession was always available.
Priest sex abusers used confession to assuage their guilt, making it easier for them to repeat their crimes.
In a response to the report, Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan stated that a civil law requirement for priests to break the seal of confession was unlikely to lead to better protection for children because abusers would not confess such matters if they knew they had to be reported. Brennan said that he would disobey any such law and accept the consequences.
Archbishop Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in his response said that the secret of the confessional is a “fundamental part of the freedom of religion…and it must remain so here in Australia.” In an interview on ABC Radio, Hart said he would go to jail rather than breach the secret.
It is surprising that no church representative has mentioned a way in which the church could significantly reduce the risk of breach of the seal by a fairly simple change to canon law based on a problem that has a long history. 
Ever since private confession became the practice in the church in the early Middle Ages, there has been a continual problem of priests soliciting sex in the confessional. The church was so worried about the practice that the Council of Treves in 1227 required such priests to be excommunicated. In 1622, Pope Gregory XV required penitents to denounce such priests to the Inquisition or to the bishop, and that confessors should advise penitents of their obligation to do so. In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV confirmed this decree, and added that absolution should be refused to solicited penitents until they denounced their confessors. He also decreed that only popes could give absolution to penitents who falsely accused priests of soliciting.
The persons solicited were mostly women, less so men, but rarely young children because until 1910, they did not go to confession until they reached the age of 12 to 14 years. In 1910*, Pope Pius X reduced the age to 7 years thus broadening the opportunities for paedophiles to find their victims. A number of case studies examined by the Australian Royal Commission confirmed that such soliciting of young children in the confessional had occurred in Australia.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law continued Benedict XIV’s 1741 decree, and required the penitent to denounce the soliciting priest within one month. The 1983 Code abolished the requirement to denounce and the reservation of absolution to the pope for false accusations against priests. Instead, it imposed an automatic interdict, a form of excommunication, on anyone making a false accusation. Canon 982 further provides that anyone who confesses to making a false accusation “is not to be absolved unless the person has first formally retracted the false denunciation, and is prepared to repair damages if there are any.”
Unless there is some other way of repairing the damage, one can only assume that canon law imposes an obligation on the penitent to pay defamation damages, and until they are paid, there will be no absolution. 
Canon law does not require clergy who sexually abuse children to be subject to an interdict, and does not require absolution to be withheld until such time as they hand themselves over to the civil authorities.
With the stroke of his pen, Pope Francis could apply the same strict standards that canon law imposes on those who falsely damage a priest’s reputation to the much more serious matter of child sexual abuse. If he did, it would become well known to child abusers in the church that they could not receive absolution, unless they handed themselves in to the police. The problem of the seal would be solved: if the abusers wanted absolution, they first had to hand themselves over to the police, and then there was no need for the confessor to break the seal by reporting; if they did not want to hand themselves over, they would not go to confession, and then there was no confessional seal to be broken. And in the latter case, the abuser would be denied the comfort of confession that the Royal Commission found was a contributing factor in the abuse of children within the Church.
This is a much better solution than Hart and Brennan having to risk becoming bloodless martyrs by going to jail in the defense of the seal, and it avoids endless arguments over the boundaries of religious liberty.
If Francis refuses to change canon law to apply the same canonical strictures to child sexual abuse that the 1983 Code imposes on false accusations of soliciting sex in the confessional, then he leaves himself open to the inference that he regards a priest’s reputation as being more important than the sexual abuse of children.

[Kieran Tapsell is a retired civil lawyer and the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican’s Secret and Child Sexual Abuse, and of a submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Canon Law, A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. He was also a member of the canon law panel before the Australian Royal Commission Feb. 9, 2017.]


Victim’s father lost church job 

A victim's family suffered reprisals from the church including job loss after they sided with their abused son, the special commission of inquiry heard yesterday.

Image result for father james fletcher
The father of one of Father James Fletcher’s victims lost his job with the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese when his son made a formal complaint against the paedophile, according to police whistleblower Peter Fox. 

Image result for maitland newcastle diocese
Detective Chief Inspector Fox told the special commission of inquiry a Hunter husband and wife suffered reprisals from the clergy during investigation and trial of Fletcher – who was convicted of sexually abusing their son. 
The inquiry heard the man told the chief inspector he began to feel “more and more alienated” at the diocese office in Hamilton where he worked in 2002. 
“He felt that because he sided with his son he was being made to pay the penalty by the diocese,” Chief Inspector Fox said. 
He said the man’s relationship with former Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone deteriorated and priests who he formed working friendships with avoided him. 
“He believed the diocese would refuse to renew his contract – which was what ultimately happened – he said they were going to squeeze him out of a job and they didn’t want him there.” 
The chief inspector said the victim’s mother felt Bishop Malone’s apology to the family was disingenuous and lacked compassion. 
Last week the inquiry heard Bishop Malone contacted the woman in 2002 to let her know he had visited Fletcher and revealed to him that the woman’s son had made a complaint to police. 
Before he contacted police, the woman’s son went to a Nelson Bay presbytery drunk and angry, where he yelled about priests doing “filthy things to little boy”. 
Chief Inspector Fox said the parish priest, Father Robert Searle, changed his version of the night’s events after an initial conversation with the detective. 
Earlier yesterday Chief Inspector Fox was cross-examined over his failure to take statements about the discovery of gay pornography in the Lochinvar presbytery where Fletcher lived. 
Last week he told the inquiry a diocesan worker had uncovered pornographic videos and magazines that Fletcher said belonged to a priest, Father Desmond Harrigan who agreed the material was his and he had destroyed it. 
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan SC, put it to Chief Inspector Fox that he did not interview or question Father Harrigan with an open mind because he had a “preconceived idea that the material belonged to Fletcher”. 
Chief Inspector Fox said he did not take a statement from Father Harrigan because it could not be used in the case against Fletcher. 
Ms Lonergan told Chief Inspector Fox his handling of the matter was important because it was raised by him as an example that the church destroyed evidence to cover-up paedophilia.


  1. I would have thought you would have been dealing with the revelations yesterday of the NIO papers released to the Public records Office after the 30 year rule. 3 Priests in 1990 including Twinbrook and Ballymurphy dined with NIO officials about glue sniffing, joyriding amongst other things. How the then Nuncio in 1990 met with British officials and revealed two of the three names being put forward for Armagh, Edward and Cahal Daly who were both approved by the British Establishment. Cahal Daly unsurprisingly got the position courtesy of the British Secretaries of State Mawhinney and later Brooke. Slugger O'Toole blog sheds more light on it as does the BBC NI website.

    1. @ 00.17
      Well yes,.. I think you mention several potentially interesting topics... I am sure posters will take note of your suggestions (once they get over this Jane.. Jane stuff)

  2. With reference to the previous post - I would just like to say to JANE that I empathise with how she was treated. People would rather believe you to be a liar than accept the truth about their precious bishop/parish priest,

    1. Thanks for your support. I am quite tough and have been here before. I defied everyone to marry my husband..and after 44 years of marriage...I think I was right!

    2. Jane says she is "quite tough" and that she "has been here before".
      Well, we can certainly vouch for the latter.... and many times too, Jane..

    3. Yep! - she has been here "many times" fact at times it feels to us as if she never goes away... oh dear..

    4. Thank you Jane for your valued contributions to Pat's blog.

    5. That'll be right LOL. Kept it going singlehandedly...

  3. 00.56 I believe you are right. Some will tolerate a known level of Injustice rather than rock the boat. As for the book. I'm sure the good judge spent many hours producing an impressive piece of work. Has it made a difference. Do those in control give a toss. The only thing that will impress them is when people walk and say no with their pockets.

  4. Interesting front page of the Newsletter today, picture of Cahal Daly and how the British influenced his appointment.

    1. @11.11
      Yeah...well.. that's the Newsletter for you.. always prints things a day after the other papers gave done them to death.. never really catches up..

  5. Why the innuendo and slur on George Pell in the photo? Like any other human being is he not entitled to the presumption of innocence until/unless he is proved guilty?

    Or is it one code of practice for some and a different one for others?

    1. If you read Potiphars Wife you will see Pell's reluctance on child abuse.

    2. Hi guys! It's Saturday night coming up!.. Hope you're all planning on gettin' out there and havin' a good time!... Good!...(except for you saddos stayin' in to read bloody potiphar's Wife)

    3. Hey! - no problem! What's the big deal man, potiphar's babe can come too

  6. MourneManMichael26 August 2017 at 11:56

    It's interesting to note that here, Sean advocates that the laity should withold financial contributions, and Pat agrees. In very recent blogs Pat makes the same comment.
    Now I may have missed it/them, but I don't recall Pat previously advocating this tactic though clearly others have. I'm pleased to see it, for I very much agree that it is the only realistic way to influence the RC church. But as has been pointed out, by Magna I think, it is regrettable that the older parishoners are more 'under the influence' of the church, and the most likely to continue financing it.
    But change is coming.

    1. MMM, There are only 3 things that force this powerful institution to change/move:

      1. People walking away.

      2. People withholding money.

      3. Exposure of the very deep corruption.

    2. Don't scoff at the choices and wisdom of "older people" please.
      We do know our own minds.

    3. MourneManMichael26 August 2017 at 13:20

      Indeed. At 73 years old I certainly do.

    4. MMM You're 73 years young, in my opinion..... and I'm not many years behind you and running a corporation!

    5. MMM 11.56: I am a member of a vibrant parish community where many families attend and participate very inclusively. No one is left out. We have no difficulty in giving financially to the support of our priests, our local Church or to any requests made, once feasible and for the betterment of all. In fact, the Parish Priest, who is chairperson of school board is forever enhancing the life of the school. Parishioners and parents are wonderful supporters. Also, our parish has been united and formed into a truly caring, kind Christian place of welcome. We've had inspiring leadership from our priests. It is unfair and completely unjust to follow Pats agenda and target all Parish communities and their priests. He himself enjoyed all the pruvileges and financial blessings when he was a member of the Catholic Church. He acts now out of vengance and hatred. His arrogance knows no bounds, his sneering is contemptible. I am surprised that someone of your intelligence should validate his abusive contempt.

    6. "....attend and participate inclusively. No one is left out".

      So your parish has women priests?

      And gay marriages?

      Tell us where it is so we can all go.

    7. If thou want gay marriages and women priests study in Larne.

    8. MourneManMichael26 August 2017 at 20:30

      Thank you Anon @ 16:49, for indeed it's good to have some positive feedback about a positive church community. And I'm sure there are many out there similarly fortunate to have a sensible cleric in tune with and meeting the needs of parishoners.
      Clearly no one can blame such an individual for all the failings so often revealed on this blogsite and in the wider media. Nor can blame be laid on such an individual's shoulders for the wider failings and limitations of the institution he represents.
      But those failings appear systemic to the RC institution, and indeed it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the 'wheat from the chaff'. So the 'crop' as a whole is often found to be at fault.
      So thank you again for indicating that despite the many rotten apples, some good fruit can be found.

    9. 16:49, 'we have no difficulty in giving financially to the support of our priests, our local Church...'

      You were well named as 'sheep'.

    10. Yes, indeed, Magna Carta. The Master Himself calls us His sheep. Thank God. We do not listen to the voice of strangers. We certainly are deaf to the shrill shrieks of harpies like you and your ilk!

  7. Don't assume it's just older people contributing to the Church! I have a young relative who is a building contractor, he gives generously to the Church just as his parents have done in the past. This will not change anytime soon, sorry to disappoint the cynics. Please don't make the assumption that it's the older generation who only contribute.

    1. He gives generously to the Church? No; he's giving to the clergy, not the Church.

      You don't know the difference, do you? (Sigh)

    2. Whether he is giving to the Church or Clergy is irrelevant you snivelling buffoon. He is happy doing so, that's the point. It may disappoint eejits like you (to which you are the biggest one) so sorry to disappoint you. If you can't get over the fact then tough titty!!

    3. The true child of God is saddened but not surprised at scandal and sin in the Church. Our Lord warned us that scandals would come and He gave us the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. God's people will continue to support God's Church and her pastors - the majority of whom are faithful servants of God. The Lord Jesus has said, 'the labourer deserves his pay'. We will never never NEVER listen to the likes of Magna Carta and the other vicious armchair snipers and shooters of poison darts, on Pat Buckley's website. For they aim bitter words like arrows; all their thought is to destroy. It will redound forever upon their own heads.

  8. @ 12.53
    A fair point....and in many cases it's the younger families of the parish who have most to gain eg re/upkeep of Catholic schools and maybe other youth facilities.

    1. MournemanMichael26 August 2017 at 15:44

      Which perhaps raises the thorny issue of segregated schooling. I won't venture an opinion at this stage. People much more informed and educated than I have written very critically on its drawbacks. And N Ireland's polarisation shows one aspect of its effects.

  9. 00.17 Thank you for drawing my attention to Slugger O'Toole blog in relation to the British skullduggery of appointing Cahal Daly to Armagh. Perhaps it warrants a blog Bishop Pat, it's all over the papers today how the British tried to influence the Vatican in several matters. Where you ever involved with secret talks with the Northern Ireland Office Pat?

  10. @13.53

    I enjoyed your attempt at daft humour!

  11. Pat. Am I not the quare boy just sitting here on my big chair minding my own business when I read the report today about the loughguile leprechaun, aka Cardinal Daly, or as my late mother called him " thon wee weasel "
    Of course the Brits wanted him in Armagh. Police Chiefs Hermon and Annesley along with other senior government mandarins would have reported to Whitehall how malleable and eager to please he was. They had him well sounded out. Invited to soirées, cocktail parties and quiet dinners and led to believe he was part of " the establishment " - with a small "e", of course!
    The weasel took the bait and once appointed to the See of Armagh believed himself to have landed. In fact he fancied himself as a Basil Hume Mark 2 He was no Hume or anything like it. Hume was the son of a distinguished Protestant surgeon, very Tory. Hume brother in law was a very high ranking civil servant. The Queen even referred to him as "my cardinal" He had many faults but not a man to be easily duped. Daly, on the other hand, despite his great (and I would venture wasted) scholarship on totally irrelevant subjects like Tertullian was taken in by the Brits and when required did their bidding. He fell for the ego massaging of the crafty folk in Whitehall Their false praise made this contemptible little man feel much taller

    Dalriada Dick ( back in form after illness)

    1. MourneManMichael26 August 2017 at 20:10

      Excellent analysis DD.
      And welcome back. I've missed you, ....but thought regularly of you and your chair when having a sup of the B. Bush myself.

    2. Welcome back, DD.

      Missed your astute observations on the world through the bottom of that glass reserved for Bushmill's finest.