Tag Archives: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Abuse victim of Opus Dei priest wants case to be acknowledged

Abuse victim of Opus Dei priest wants case to be acknowledged
By Ines San Martin
https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2020/07/abuse-victim-of-opus-dei-priest-wants-case-to-be-acknowledged/

ROSARIO, Argentina – On June 30, Father Manuel Cociña, a Spaniard, became the first priest belonging to the personal prelature of Opus Dei to be found guilty and sentenced by the Vatican of sexual abuse. He has 15 days to appeal, though sources have told Crux he’s not planning on doing so since appeals usually end worse for those found guilty.

Cociña, 72, was found guilty of molesting one young man, who was 18 when the abuse began in 2002. He’s been sentenced to five years of suspended ministry. He’ll have to spend the time in prayer in the residence where he lives, and after that, when he’s allowed back to ministry, he won’t be able to have contact with people under 30.

His victim was an Opus Dei member at the time of the abuse. Today he lives in Chile, is married, and remains a Mass-going Catholic. He spoke first with a Spanish news outlet and then with Crux, not out of “animosity towards the Church, nor the Work,” he said on Wednesday, using the colloquial term for Opus Dei, which is Latin for “Work of God.”

“What I want is for my case to become public so the Catholic Church in Spain, and Opus Dei there, can move forward in abuse prevention and transparency, as has happened in Chile,” said the survivor, who will be called “Lucas” to protect his identity.

“Eight years ago, the Catholic Church in Chile blew up because of the Karadima case,” Lucas said. “Maybe the same can happen here.”

The reference is to Fernando Karadima, the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, who was expelled from the priesthood by Pope Francis after the Vatican sentenced him to a life of penitence and prayer.

When Francis visited Chile in 2018, he accused Karadima survivors – James Hamilton, Juan Carlos Cruz and Jose Andres Murillo – of “calumny” for asserting that Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, a protégé of Karadima, had covered up for his mentor.

Three months later, and after sending two top-notch investigators to Chile, the pontiff made a 180 degree turn.

He summoned all of Chile’s bishops to Rome,and they handed in their resignations; he publicly apologized to survivors; and he began purging the Chilean church, with several bishops replaced in less than a year, some removed from the priesthood, and several famous priests expelled for having abused minors.

Lucas, who decided to lodge a formal allegation against Cociña after the pope’s visit, believes much has improved since then. In Santiago, the country’s capital, there’s an office that tends to victims, OPADE, and protects those who make allegations. In his own case, they’ve covered his bills for both legal counsel and a psychologist.

“Everything is support and transparency,” Lucas said regarding his experience in Chile.

In Spain, however, he said he’s struggled. He first spoke to his spiritual director about the abuses almost a decade ago, yet Crux has confirmed that Cociña was transferred several times even after the allegation was made against him.

Cociña worked in high schools, seminaries and was even the rector of the Basilica of San Miguel, run by Opus Dei in Madrid. He was transferred to the basilica in 2002, a date Lucas remembers because it was “after the canonization of Escriva,” meaning, after the founder of Opus Dei was declared a saint earlier that year.

Two years later, Cociña was “quietly transferred” to Galicia, a province in northwestern Spain. Lucas said that move is especially worrying because “it happened after Boston,” meaning after clerical abuse allegations blew up in the United States.

“What enrages me is that this man has been abusing young men for 30 years throughout Spain, and the Work moved him from one place to the other,” Lucas said. “He’s been condemned for my case, because I’m the one who’s formally charged him. But this is not about my case, it’s about his life. And the lives he might have ruined.”

After Lucas made his allegation public in 2019 by speaking with a Spanish journalist, Opus Dei released a statement, acknowledging that in August 2018, the prelature in Spain had received from Chile an accusation of sexual abuse against Cociña.

The statement also said that less than a month later, and at the direct order of Monsignor Fernando Ocariz, the head of Opus Dei, a preliminary investigation was ordered. By Oct. 1, 2018, the priest had been restricted in his pastoral ministry, being banned from talking to people under 30, and restricted to the center where he lives.

By December 2018, the file was at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that handles allegations of sexual abuse by priests. It was this office that ruled on June 30 that the priest had been found guilty.

The sentence was communicated to Lucas, but no formal statement has been made. Furthermore, a representative of Opus Dei reportedly told Lucas that no statement should be expected, because his case “wasn’t that big … Cociña is no McCarrick or Karadima,” meaning, ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Washington archbishop found guilty of abuse and removed from the priesthood by Francis.

“I’m very glad with the fact that there’s a sentence, because it means that what happened is finally acknowledged,” Lucas said. “At times, I felt I was crazy, that I was making it up. The sentence is small: Five years suspended and five more years locked in his center. But I haven’t seen the sentence, and I’ve received no institutional call from Opus Dei confirming it.”

“The person who told me was the man appointed by the prelate, who’s a lovely person and who’s been nothing but helpful and forthcoming, but who told me ‘This is canon law, you don’t have a right to the sentence, nor right to know who said what’,” Lucas said.

“The accused and I are not on even footing: I notify the Church of the abuse, and it’s the Church [Opus Dei] that canonically makes the accusation [to the CDF],” he said. “I know there are other accusers in the case against Cociña.”

Lucas has filed no civil complaint because of the statute of limitations.

What he’s been told is that sentence is 16 pages long and that it does, in fact, include other people who were reportedly molested by the priest.

“I’m not going to change canon law,” Lucas said dejectedly. “But what I want is for Opus Dei to release a statement saying ‘this person has been found guilty,’ as they did when the allegation was made.”

“I want a statement to be made, not because I’m obsessed with this story being in the media, but because some people know who I am. There are people in Spain who know I made the allegations, and I want for it to be publicly acknowledged: I didn’t lie, I’m not a crazy man who did this out of hatred of the Work.”

Cociña has 15 days to appeal the sentence, and until he formally decides not to do so, the sentence is not considered definitive. Until then, Opus Dei cannot publicly address the issue.

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups
By Nicole Winfield
https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/03/catholic-church-cardinals-implicated-in-sex-abuse-cover-ups/

The conviction of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report a known pedophile priest to police deepens the crisis confronting an already discredited Catholic Church hierarchy. The verdict handed down by magistrates Thursday shows the church’s once-untouchable “princes” increasingly are judged accountable for priests who abuse children and the superiors who allowed the abuse to continue.

After centuries of impunity, cardinals from Chile to Australia and points in between are facing justice in both the Vatican and government courts for their own sexual misdeeds or for having shielded abusers under their watch.

Here is a look at cases implicating Catholic cardinals, members of the exclusive club of prelates that advises the pope and eventually elects his successor.

Australia — Cardinal George Pell

In December, the Vatican’s former finance minister was convicted in his native Australia of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s.

Pell was convicted of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and his 13-year-old friend in 1996 and 1997, months after the 77-year-old cardinal became archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell has denied wrongdoing and planned to appeal. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Each of his five convictions carries a potential 10-year maximum sentence.

After his conviction, the Vatican said its sex crimes office had opened an investigation and confirmed the Sydney archbishop restricted Pell’s ministry after the cardinal returned to Australia to face trial.

United States — ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick 

Francis last month defrocked the onetime leader of the American church after an internal investigation determined McCarrick sexually molested children and adult men; some of the molestation took place during confession. It was the first time a cardinal had been defrocked over the scandal.

One of McCarrick’s victims has filed a police report and spoken to prosecutors in New York City, but it is unclear if any criminal charges can be brought given so much time has passed since the abuse occurred.

The McCarrick scandal has implicated high-ranking churchmen in both the United States and at the Vatican since it was apparently an open secret he slept with adult seminarians.

Chile — Cardinals Javier Errazuriz and Riccardo Ezzati 

The current and former archbishops of Santiago are under investigation by Chilean prosecutors for allegedly covering up for abusive priests.

Errazuriz, who retired as Santiago archbishop in 2010, was recently forced to resign from Francis’s kitchen cabinet after the depth of his cover-up was exposed last year.

His successor, Ezzati, was sued this week by a man who accused him of protecting a priest who allegedly drugged and raped him in the Santiago cathedral. The victim first filed a complaint with Ezzati in 2015. Ezzati issued a church sentence against the priest last year.

Prosecutors have overseen raids of church offices around the country. Ezzati and Errazuriz have so far refused to answer questions in the investigation.

Francis secured offers of resignation from every active Chilean bishop last year as part of Vatican efforts to clean up the Chilean church.

Scotland — Cardinal Keith O’Brien

O’Brien, once the highest-ranking Catholic leader in Britain, recused himself from the 2013 conclave that elected Francis pope after unidentified priests alleged in British newspaper reports that he acted inappropriately toward them.

The priests said they had complained to church authorities about O’Brien’s conduct but never received a response. None of the men were thought to have been minors when the alleged inappropriate behavior took place.

In 2015, Francis accepted O’Brien’s resignation after he relinquished the rights and privileges of being a cardinal. The decision was reached after the Vatican sent its top sex crimes investigator to Scotland to look into the allegations.

O’Brien was allowed to retain the title of cardinal and he died a cardinal in 2018.

Belgium — Cardinal Godfried Danneels

The retired head of Belgium’s Catholic Church has been under fire since 2010, when he was caught on tape suggesting that a victim of a serial predator bishop keep quiet until the man retired.

Two weeks after Danneels met with the victim, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned and expressed sorrow for having long abused his nephew, both as a priest and after becoming a bishop.

Danneels had told the victim it would do him no good going public, and he urged him to forgive his uncle.

Francis has been criticized for having included Danneels, considered a key supporter in his 2013 election, in important church meetings since the scandal.

United States — Cardinal Bernard Law

Law resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 following revelations he hid clergy abuse involving dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, the scandal chronicled by the Boston Globe that led to the reckoning in the U.S. church.

More than any other prelate, he epitomized the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to head St. Mary Major basilica in 2004 reinforced the impression the Vatican still hadn’t grasped the scale of the child abuse problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility the church had lost as a result.

At Law’s Vatican funeral last year, Francis prayed for a merciful final judgment.

Austria — Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer

Groer was allowed to retire on schedule as archbishop of Vienna in 1995 despite multiple allegations he sexually abused young boys at a seminary. He died in 2003 without ever facing civil or canonical justice.

His successor as Vienna archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in 2010 accused the Vatican secretary of state at the time of the scandal, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of being behind a cover-up and blocking a Vatican investigation of Groer’s crimes.

The same year, the Vatican gave Schoenborn a rare dressing down for his comments about Sodano, reminding him that only the pope can level accusations against a cardinal.

Vatican — Cardinal Angelo Sodano

As the powerful Vatican secretary of state under John Paul, Sodano has long been held in part responsible for the Vatican’s refusal to take action against pedophile priests.

More than anyone, he has been blamed for blocking a church investigation into the 20th century Catholic Church’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order.

Francis recently referred to how then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – initially failed to secure a sanction against Maciel, a veiled reference to the weight Cardinal Sodano wielded on the decisions of Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“He (Ratzinger) went with all his files. And when he returned he told his secretary, ‘Put them in the archive. The other side won,’” Francis said. “But then, once he became pope, the first thing he said was ‘Bring me the files from the archive,’ and he started.”

Eventually, the Vatican under Benedict sanctioned Maciel to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes.