The Vatican's Dark Crows Come Home to Roost by Kevin Annett
Whoever would harm one of these little ones, it would be better if a millstone was tied around his neck and he was cast into the sea.
- Jesus Christ, quoted in Luke There's a joke circulating in Rome these days, that Pope Benedict is considering having his title changed to "Innocent" in anticipation of his upcoming trial for aiding and abetting child rapists in the Catholic church.
It's no joke, really. When I and a handful of people tried to hold a memorial service for children who died in Catholic Indian schools outside the Vatican this past Easter, we were swarmed by fifteen state police and halted from our witness. The church, and its accomplices in government, know very well that they are on the verge of facing criminal charges that could bring down the church.
That's the optimistic scenario. What's more likely, according to Vatican sources, is that the church will swing a deal and have the Pope retire for "health reasons" and take the fall for what the international media are calling the worst scandal to hit the Vatican since its diplomatic concordat with Adolf Hitler in 1933.
The Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, is not a popular guy, even in Catholic circles. A German, former Hitler Youth member, and arch reactionary who led the church's Inquisition against liberals in Catholic ranks for decades, Ratzinger was fondly known as "Joe the Rat" among his fellow Cardinals. But he has a lot of power, and authored the policy, still in place, that compels clergy to suppress evidence when children are raped by priests: a criminal act which has lawyers for rape victims smacking their lips.
"The man should be on trial" stated one American jurist last month.
"The Pope not only ordered priests to silence rape victims, but he moved rapists around within the church, and he protected them. That much we know. Doing that in one country is one thing, but Ratinzinger ordered it done in other countries, which is known as international obstruction of justice. That's a crime against humanity under international law."
The image of Interpol or local police arresting the Pope when he touches down in other countries is more than compelling, but Vatican lawyers insist that as a "head of state", Ratzinger has diplomatic immunity from any kind of prosecution. The Vatican, it seems, has never heard of the Nuremburg Trials.
"That's not going to stop me from arresting him" declared Paddy Doyle to me last month, at a protest outside the Irish Parliament in Dublin. Doyle is a survivor of church torture who has become an international spokesman for victims.
"I'm going to be there in the front row when the Pope does his mass in London this September. I'll drive my wheelchair right into him and arrest him, and let them try to stop me!" declared Doyle to TV cameras and cheering supporters, prior to his meeting with Irish government officials and demanding legal sanctions against the Catholic church.
People like Paddy Doyle are stepping forward in greater numbers these days, for their time has clearly come. I had the honor of meeting many of them in my recent tour to Europe, where I began to rally them into an international campaign to bring charges against the Roman catholic church in international courts.
The murder and torture of generations of children in church run facilities happened across the world, according to the same type of church-government collusion that characterized Indian residential schools here in Canada. Indeed, in 2004, the Canadian government actually sent officials to Ireland to give politicians there advice about how to contain and co-opt the growing movement of church victims in Ireland.
"You Canadians are very good at excusing yourselves for your mass murder of Indians. Clearly our government has a lot to learn from you, and as a result, it's been very successful at avoiding prosecution for how it helped the church kidnap and exploit little children" described Mary McKinney, a human rights activist, to me during my sojourn in Dublin.
For generations, Catholic orphanages in Ireland, England and other nations ran sweat shops where children as young as four worked as slave labor producing rosary beads and other religious artifacts: just like in Canadian Indian residential schools. And the death rate in these facilities was remarkably constant, hovering between one third and one half of all the little inmates.
"The church must pay back what they stole from these children and their forced labor. They must point out where the dead are buried, too" declared Sean Hennessey, an Irish lawyer for victims, last year.
"What the church made off these children exceeds a billion dollars, just in our country alone. We demand real reparations, and jail terms for the church officers, not merely token
How to make the Vatican accountable under the law is another matter. As in Canada, the church has so far evaded any criminal charges for the death and torture of children under its care.
And yet this issue will not go away, any more than a government and church-appointed "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" (TRC) in Canada will shove under the rug a century of crimes in Indian residential schools. For the scale of the crime is enormous.
According to Ojibway Chief Louis Daniels in Winnipeg, who will be protesting outside the first official TRC forum in that city on June 15, the time for lies is over.
"I was tortured in a United Church residential school and saw my friends murdered there, and now I'm supposed to not name the names of their murderers in front of the TRC. And I can't sue the church, or bring charges against it. It all proves that we'll never get justice in the white man's system. We need the UN or someone to come in here and charge Canada with genocide. Just like what happened in other countries."
Chief Daniels will be part of a delegation of native elders who will travel with me back to Europe in September to link with other survivors of church crimes in Ireland, England, Germany and Italy. And he'll stand outside the Vatican with me to help exorcise a spirit of lies and murder from the oldest institution in history.
Says Chief Daniels,
"The church is a wolf in sheep's clothing. But we're all waking up to that now. Their time is over."