Monday 9 April 2012

Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

Authors: Jason Berry and Gerald Renner
Publication Details: New York: The Free Press, 2004
DVD website:
Cast of characters:
The good: Father Thomas Doyle, defender of victims
The bad: Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ
The ugly: the Curia, John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger

This is a book that is story of 2 men and their interactions with the "powers that be" in Roman Catholicism. While clearly, the story is a unified whole, Jason Berry is predominantly responsible for the sections on Father Doyle, while Gerald Renner researched the sections on Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. Both men are investigative journalists.

It gives a biography of both men: Father Doyle who is shunned by the Vatican; Father Maceil who is defended and supported by the Vatican under Pope John Paul II. What it does primarily is show where the priorities of the Curia and Pope sit vis-a-vis the child sexual abuse scandal. Published just after the mess in Boston overseen by Cardinal Bernard Law, it puts one more nail in the coffin of the institutional church.

It is, once again, a story of ideology over the pain and suffering of the individual. It was interesting reading about a Roman Catholic order that I had never heard about before - the Legionairies of Christ. It is another ultra-conservative Roman Catholic group similar to the Opus Dei. Both remind one of the medieval church with its saints and abuse of the self. Despite clear evidence of the founder's propensity to child sexual abuse and drug abuse, Maciel was given a pass. Maciel died in 2008 and was forced to leave "public ministry" before his death by Pope Benedict XVI, who as the head of the Inquisition (see previous blogs for why I still call it that), dismissed/ignored Maciel's victims.

As I was finishing the book, I wondered what Berry, Renner and Doyle thought about the election of Ratzinger to the Papacy. They must have died a little inside.  

The order has now to deal with the truth of Berry and Renner's book. See the following article from the New York Times: "Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That its Founder led a Double Life". It is notable for the apology issued by the managing editor of the National Catholic Register:

 Tom Hoopes, managing editor of The National Catholic Register, which is affiliated with the Legionaries, posted an apology on the Web on Tuesday for having dismissed the sexual abuse accusations, saying, “I’m sorry to the victims, who were victims twice.”

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