Category Archives: Roman Catholic Church

JUNE 11 2018 – “POPE ACCEPTS CHILEAN BISHOPS’ RESIGNATION OVER ABUSE SCANDAL” – BBC NEWS

 

Pope accepts Chilean bishops’ resignation over abuse scandal

Published 11 June 2018

Bishop Juan Barros (C) attends his first religious service as people protest against him at the Osorno cathedral, south of Santiago, Chile, 21 March 2015IMAGE COPYRIGHT REUTERS Bishop Juan Barros has been accused of covering up child sexual abuse, which he denies
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including the controversial Juan Barros, in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal.
Bishop Barros was accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.
Pope Francis has said that he made “grave mistakes” by originally defending Bishop Barros.
All of Chile’s 34 Roman Catholic bishops had offered their resignations.
The decision by the Pope to accept the resignation of three of the 34 was announced in a statement issued by the Vatican on Monday.
Apart from Bishop Barros of Osorno, Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso will now be replaced.
It was not clear if the move meant that the remaining 31 resignations would not be accepted.
Pope Francis became involved in the scandal surrounding Juan Barros when he defended the bishop during his visit to Chile in January. At the time he said that allegations against the bishop amounted to “slander”.
“The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope had said at the time.
In this file photo taken on May 02, 2018 Chilean sexual abuse victims Jose Andres Murillo (R), James Hamilton (C) and Juan Carlos Cruz (L) pose at the end of a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on May 2, 2018.IMAGE COPYRIGHTAFP image caption Victims of sexual abuse Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo have spoken out in public about what happened to them
He later apologised to victims, saying: “I apologise to them if I hurt them without realising it, but it was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to.”
The installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the southern city of Osorno in 2015 met with stiff resistance.
More than 1,000 people wrote to Pope Francis asking him to review the appointment and hundreds showed up at the bishop’s installation ceremony in protest.
They accused Bishop Barros of using his position in the Church to cover up the actions of his mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing children.
Victims of Fernando Karadima said Juan Barros had been present when the priest had abused them. Bishop Barros denies any wrongdoing.
One of the victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, told Chilean radio that by accepting the resignations, Pope Francis had “sent a message to the world that this culture of abuse and cover-up won’t be tolerated any longer”.
The Pope’s move comes after he received two groups of victims of Fernando Karadima at the Vatican.
About 80 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse over the past 18 years.
Under Pope Francis, a Vatican committee has been set up to fight sexual abuse and help victims.

More on this story

AUGUST 29 2020 – RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ?

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RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN?

‘Gilo’ concludes his Surviving Church article:

“At what point will someone cry out on the floor of the House of Bishops: Enough of all our broken pretence. We must apologise collectively, publicly and authentically for our failure to treat so many survivors honestly; for our insistence on distancing from their stories, our disclosure denials and “no recollections”, our reliance on dysfunctional processes; and in too many instances for our behaviour worse than denial – gaslighting and really cowardly and mean behaviour. Enough. We must do real penance, seek truth and reconciliation, and must reform our episcopal culture and reform our structures right to their bones”

The Catholic Bishops of Chile did just that two years ago – May 2018 – offering their resignations en-masse to Pope Francis:

“We have put our positions in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely for each of us,” they said. “We want to ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the pope, to God’s people and to our country for the serious errors and omissions we have committed”

Something of the same magnitude must happen here – Bishops and Archbishops – by offering their resignations to Her Majesty The Queen – The Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

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Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

“CARDINAL PELL: NATURAL AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS” – ‘Philosophical Investigations’ – April 20 2020

“The legal cases of Cardinal George Pell and Bishop George Bell are very different, but there are parallels which cannot be ignored – such as the critical importance of Presumption of Innocence in the endless quest for justice and fairness”

~ Richard W. Symonds

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http://www.philosophical-investigations.org/2020/04/cardinal-pell-natural-and-inalienable.html

Monday, 20 April 2020

Cardinal Pell: Natural and Inalienable Rights

by Richard W. Symonds

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, by GB_1984

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for—and security of—this principle.That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity—in fact, yours and mine.

The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence—it is for the accuser to prove guilt—beyond reasonable doubt. It is one of the foundational legal principles—a bedrock of our civilisation: ‘The burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. Or Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat in the ancient Latin.

Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A just law must be a fair law, which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.

In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system—and presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined.

A basic history of events—a timelined chronology if you will—would help:

• July 16 1996 — Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies that the bishop molested him and his friend—both aged 13—in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.
• March 26 2001 — Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
• October 21 2003 — Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.
• February 25 2014 — Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister — Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
• April 8 2014 — One of the choirboys dies aged 31, of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell, in fact telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.
• August 5 2014 — Victoria police establish a task force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.
• June 18 2015 — The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.
• December 23 2015 — The Victoria Police task force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Archbishop fo Melbourne.
• March 1 2016 — Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome, to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell is critical on how the Church has dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but *denies he had been aware of the extent of the problem.
• October 19 2016 — Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell, who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.
• June 29 2017 — Police charge Cardinal Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This makes him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denies the accusations and takes leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.
• July 26 2017 — Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations are not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.
• May 1 2018 — A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
• May 2 2018 — A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne, and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.
• December 11 2018 — The jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.
• February 26 2019 — A suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.
• March 13 2019 — The judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison, on five sex abuse convictions, in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.
• August 21 2019 — Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2–1 to uphold the convictions, but there is ‘stinging dissent’ by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.
• The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.
• April 7 2020 — All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately—after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’.There was ‘a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted, because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof’. The High Court referred to what it called ‘the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses’ at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in before the High Court judges intervened this April 2020 to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The Cardinal is entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what the Presumption of Innocence is all about—innocent until proven guilty.

Beware the spirit of the age. Alan Ryan, a professor of politics at Princeton University, sounded the alert thirty-two years ago: ‘Natural and inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have fallen into disrepute, along with a faith in reason and reason’s dictates.’

COMMENTS

Keith said…
The essay focuses on the underlying legal principle of the ‘presumption of innocence’. Fair enough; that’s a just guiding rule; and my understanding is that the Australian legal system abides by that.

However, in looking down the chronology, as an impartial reader with no dog in the fight I see nothing that explicitly proves that the presumption of innocence was denied the defendant when the jury arrived at its verdict in December 2018.

Without categorical evidence to the contrary, I have to assume the empanelled jurors — a ‘jury of one’s peers’, as they say, with preemptory strikes by both sides — went into the trial and into their deliberations honoring the defendant’s presumed innocence.

Likewise regarding the presumption of innocence by the appeals court that apparently upheld the verdict, by a split decision, in August 2019.

I have no opinion whether the defendant was or was not guilty; that’s not appropriate for me to weigh in on, particularly given the dearth of evidence here. I defer to Australia’s legal system.

But, again, what’s important is I see nothing in either the chronology or surrounding narrative that supports the charge that, as the post says, ‘the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined’. The material proof of that assertion is omitted.

“In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’”

The Hight Court judges ruled that “the jury ‘ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt”.

That means the jury “entertained” a Presumption of Guilt, which is why I assert “the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined”.

Martin Cohen said…I think the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall. In particular, witness evidence is even more prone to confused recollections than shortly after the event, while someone who is accused will have great difficulty defending themselves with regard to what “they did” when (if innocent) they can hardly be expected to remember much. Ironically, a guilty person has much more reason to remember events and be able to produce a coherent but false narrative…20 April 2020 at 13:24

Richard W. Symonds said…

Indeed, “the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall…”. And now there is a fresh abuse allegation against Cardinal Pell which has come just after his acquittal – alleged to have taken place over 40 years ago “back in the 1970s”.

20 April 2020 at 14:51 

In our complex societies, we ‘prioritise the principles of social life’, as Yves Simon put it. Together with procedures which support those principles, this removes passions and prejudices as the basis for the system — rather artificially, one might add.

I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does, and it has been proved. See The Australian, ‘Cardinal George Pell convicted for a lacklustre display of empathy,’ by Angela Shanahan. Which is not to say that all charges are false, including those where there is acquittal.

This past week, my neighbour was taken from his home and jailed. When we checked, the police had failed to follow Standard Operating Procedure. For instance, they failed to ask him for a statement, and it looks as though there wasn’t a valid statement against him. Here is an example of what happens where passions and prejudices are allowed any room.

20 April 2020 at 16:50

Richard W. Symonds said…

“I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does…”

Yes, indeed it does. In the case of the Southampton football manager Dave Jones, falsely accused of abusing his children [recounted in his autobiography ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – 2009], the police were forced to ‘trawl’ in prisons to find inmates to come forward to back up the accuser’s story. The presiding judge – Judge David Clarke – concluded: “No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

20 April 2020 at 18:55 

OCT 14 2020 – FIRST VATICAN PAEDOPHILE TRIAL BEGINNING – CARDINAL GEORGE PELL MEETS POPE

“CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS

Cardinal George Pell released from Australia’s Geelong prison – April 7, 2020. 
 (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

 

I have been prompted to write this article because of the close parallels with the Bishop Bell case. [See ‘Afternote’ at end of article].

Richard W. Symonds

CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS OF THE BELL SOCIETY – 

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for – and security of – this principle. 

That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity.

‘Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat’ is one of the foundational legal principles – a bedrock of our civilization: ‘the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence; it is for the accuser to prove guilt – beyond reasonable doubt. 
Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
A just law must be a fair law which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.
In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system – and presumption of innocence has been lethally compromised and undermined.
A basic history of events – a timelined chronology if you will – might help:
July 16 1996 – Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies Bishop Pell molested him and his friend – both aged 13 – in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.

March 26 2001 – Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.

October 21 2003 – Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.

February 25 2014 – Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister – Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

April 8 2014 – One of the choirboys dies aged 31 of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell and telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.

August 5 2014 – Victoria police establish a Task Force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.

June 18 2015 – The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.

December 23 2015 – The Victoria Police Task Force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Melbourne Archbishop.

March 1 2016 – Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical on how the Church had dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem.

October 19 2016 – Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.

June 29 2017 – Police charge Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This made him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.

July 26 2017 – Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.

May 1 2018 – A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.

May 2 2018 – A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Melbourne Archbishop and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.

December 11 2018 – Jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.

February 26 2019 – Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.

March 13 2019 – Judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison on five sex abuse convictions in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.

August 21 2019 – Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2-1 to uphold the convictions, but there is “stinging dissent” by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.

The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.

April 7 2020 – All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately – after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”. The High Court referred to what it called “the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses” at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

It is clear Cardinal George Pell should never have been convicted. It is clear he should never have spent 13 months incarcerated behind bars. It is clear there was a miscarriage of justice in the December 2018 jury conviction. It is clear Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholding the judge’s March 2019 conviction was wrong.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in the case of Cardinal Pell, before the High Court judges intervened this April to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The unanimous High Court judgement makes explicit the standard of reasonable doubt and makes implicit criticisms of the Victoria Court of Appeal for not understanding what that means. There was a presumption of guilt on their part, but he has now been found ‘not guilty’ beyond reasonable doubt.The Cardinal is therefore entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what  the Presumption of Innocence is all about – innocent until proven guilty.

AFTERNOTE

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph carried an item about a new abuse allegation having just been made against Cardinal Pell, following his recent acquittal [“New child abuse police inquiry into cardinal”, DT, April 14 2020 – Page 15].

IMG_5446

This reminds me particularly of the events of Jan/Feb 2018, immediately following the Carlile Review (see Chronology below) – and has prompted the “Cardinal Pell and the Presumption of Innocence” piece.

Sept 5 2019 – Bishop Bell and “Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cardinal Pell” – ‘Lifesite’ – Joseph Shaw

 

https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/human-respect-trumps-justice-in-persecution-of-cdl-pell

Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cdl. Pell

September 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — As I have written before, the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, despite being upheld on appeal, is difficult to understand. On the one hand, as Pell’s legal team painstakingly explained, it was essentially impossible for Pell to have abused two choristers (as alleged) in a sacristy, while still vested, without anyone noticing, at a time when he would actually have been outside the front of the cathedral talking to Mass-goers. On the other hand, the only evidence against him is the word of one accuser; the other alleged victim denied that the abuse took place.

However the jury and two court of appeal came to their decisions, doubts will continue to be voiced, especially in light of the carefully argued dissenting opinion by one of the appeal-court judges.

In England we have been through the whole range of emotions about the credibility of alleged victims of sexual abuse, particularly in the context of the alleged ‘VIP pedophile ring’. The accuser, whose testimony was prematurely described by the police as ‘credible and true’, is now beginning a prison sentence of 18 years for perverting the course of justice. (He has appealed.)

A parallel case arose in the context of the late George Bell, an Anglican Bishop of Chichester. Bell’s posthumous reputation was destroyed by a single accuser who was paid compensation by the Church of England. Bell’s supporters demanded an investigation into the matter, and reports commissioned by the Church of England have cast doubt on the credibility of the accusations.

‘Believing the victim’ sounds attractive, until you realize that until matters are investigated, and ideally tested in court, it is impossible to say who the victim is. It is facile to talk of ‘striking a balance’ between accusers and the accused. What is needed, instead, is a degree of moral seriousness about these cases, which has not always been on display.

Terrible cases of abuse have not been promptly or properly investigated because of concerns about damaging race relations. Again, the local prominence of an abuser has stifled investigations. In the cases noted earlier, it was political or public relations concerns which led to accusations being investigated, and even individuals condemned, without sufficient scrutiny. The problem in all cases is that a concern for justice is being brushed aside by a concern about human respect, public opinion, and emotions. Past failures in one direction lead to new failures in the opposite direction, because instead of coming to see the moral seriousness of these cases, those in authority were too concerned about looking good in the newspapers.

It is not a question of being harsh or lenient. It is a question of being genuinely open to the truth, however painful that might prove to be.

April 14 2019 – The Bell Tower – Tower of London – Charles Bailly [1542-1625]: “Wise men ought to se what they do, to examine before they speake; to prove before they take in hand; to beware whose company they use; and, above all things, to whom they truste”

bell-tower-tower-of-london-england-photo-by-amy-cools-12-jan-2018-1

The Bell Tower – Tower of London

 

http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/tower_london_14.html

The Bell Tower

 

The Bell  Tower

The Bell Tower is situated immediately adjoining the Queen’s House. The tower was constructed to reinforce the defensive wall of the inner bailey and was built during the late twelfth century, making it the second oldest tower after the Norman White Tower and may have been built on the orders of King Richard the Lionheart (1189-99).

The Bell  Tower

The Bell Tower derives its name from the small wooden turret situated on top of the tower which contains the Tower’s ‘curfew bell’, used to inform prisoners given the liberty of the Tower that it was time to return to their quarters. Today it is sounded at 5.45pm each day, to warn visitors that the Tower is about to close.

Several famous prisoners were held in the Bell Tower during Tudor times, including Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and the Princess Elizabeth. More and Fisher were sent to the Tower by Henry VIII for their refusal to subscribe to the Act of Supremecy, which made the monarch Head of an English Church which was divorced from Rome. The situation had arisen through Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope could not grant Henry the required annulment, as Catherine’s nephew, Charles V, the powerful Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain held him in his power.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More

The brilliant Sir Thomas More (pictured), King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and the author of Utopia, spent a period of incarceration in the Bell Tower. The staunchly Catholic More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy and swear allegiance to the King as Supreme Head of the Church in England for which on 17th April 1534, he was imprisoned in the Tower.

At first, More’s imprisonment was not overly harsh. His family were allowed to bring drink and warm clothing, and his wife Alice and daughter, Margaret Roper, were allowed to visit him. However as More continued to refuse to be persuaded to sign the oath, the fire in his cell, then his food, warm clothing, books and writing implements were all removed. On 1st July 1535, More was tried at Westminster, charged with high treason and sentenced to death. More was executed on Tower Hill on 6th July, 1535. He is buried in the nearby tower chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Bishop Fisher

The Bell  Tower

Imprisoned in the Tower on 16th April 1534, the Catholic martyr John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, is believed to have been lodged in the Upper Bell Tower, directly above More’s lodgings.

Fisher was the only English bishop who had refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, although captive in the same tower, they communicated by means of messages delivered by their servants. The Pope promised to create Fisher a cardinal, to which the enraged Henry famously declared that Fisher would have no head to wear his cardinal’s hat on. Bishop Fisher’s trial took place on 17th June, he was found guilty, and executed on 22nd June 1535.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) also suffered a term of imprisonment in the Bell Tower at the age of 21, during the reign of her elder sister Mary I. Suspected of underhand involvement in the Wyatt Rebellion, Elizabeth was arrested and taken to the Tower of London by boat, landing at Traitors Gate, the princess angrily proclaimed that she was no traitor. During a heavy down pour of rain, Elizabeth had no choice but to enter the Tower. She passed under the arch of the Bloody Tower where she may have seen, across the inner ward, the scaffold left over from the execution of Lady Jane Grey, who was also implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion.

CHARLES BAILLY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baillie_(papal_agent)

In the spring of 1571, Baillie was about to leave Flanders with copies of a book by the bishop of Ross in defence of Queen Mary,[2] which he had got printed at the Liège press, when Roberto di Ridolfi, the agent of Pope Pius V, entrusted him with letters in cipher for the queen, and also for the Spanish ambassador, the Duke of Norfolk, the Bishop of Ross, and Lord Lumley. They described a plan for a Spanish landing on Mary’s behalf in the eastern counties of England. As soon as Baillie set foot on shore at Dover, he was arrested and taken to the Marshalsea. The letters were, however, conveyed in secret by Lord Cobham to the bishop of Ross, who, with the help of the Spanish ambassador, composed other letters of a less incriminating nature to be laid before Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth’s chief advisor.

The scheme might have been successful had Burghley not made use of a traitor, named Thomas Herle, to gain Baillie’s confidence. Herle described Baillie as “fearful, full of words, glorious, and given to the cup, a man easily read”.[3] Herle had also gained the confidence of the bishop, and a complete exposure of the whole plot was imminent when an indiscretion on Herle’s part convinced Baillie that he was betrayed. He endeavoured to warn the bishop by a letter, but it was intercepted, and Baillie was conveyed to the Tower of London, where he refused to read the cipher of the letters, and was put on the rack. The following inscription, still visible on the walls, records his reflections inspired by the situation: “L. H. S. 1571 die 10 Aprilis. Wise men ought to se what they do, to examine before they speake; to prove before they take in hand; to beware whose company they use; and, above all things, to whom they truste. |— Charles Bailly.”

One night, the figure of a man appeared at Baillie’s bedside. He claimed to be John Story, whom Baillie knew to be in the Tower awaiting execution. In reality the figure was that of a traitor of the name of Parker, but Baillie fell into the trap with the same facility as before. On Parker’s advice he endeavoured to gain credit with Burghley by deciphering the substituted letters of the bishop of Ross. He revealed also the story of the abstracted packet, and sought to persuade Burghley to grant him his liberty by offering to watch the correspondence of the bishop of Ross. That he gained nothing by following the advice of his second friendly counsellor is attested by an inscription in the Beauchamp Tower as follows: ‘Principium eapientie Timor Domini, I. H. S. X. P. S. Be friend to no one. Be enemye to none. Anno D. 1571, 10 Septr. The most unhappy man in the world is he that is not pacient in adversities; for men are not killed with the adversities they have, but with ye impacience which they suffer. Tout vient apoient, quy peult attendre. Gli sospiri ne son testimoni veri dell’ angolcia mia, aet. 29. Charles Bailly.’

April 10 2019 -“Never forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer” – Deacon Greg Kandra

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2019/04/never-forget-recalling-the-death-of-bonhoeffer/

Never Forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer

German Federal Archives/Wikipedia

The great preacher, writer, theologian and witness to the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,was executed on April 9, 1945, just days before the Nazi camp where he was held, Flossenbürg, was liberated. He was 39.

Here’s what happened: 

On 4 April 1945, the diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, were discovered, and in a rage upon reading them, Hitler ordered that the Abwehr conspirators [those who had plotted for Hitler’s assassination] be destroyed. 

Bonhoeffer was led away just as he concluded his final Sunday service and asked an English prisoner, Payne Best, to remember him to Bishop George Bell of Chichester if he should ever reach his home: “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.”

Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenbürg concentration camp.  He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp,  three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris’s deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, General Friedrich von Rabenau, businessman Theodor Strünck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre.

Eberhard Bethge, a student and friend of Bonhoeffer’s, writes of a man who saw the execution: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer…In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

His legacy has been profound:

Bonhoeffer’s life as a pastor and theologian of great intellect and spirituality who lived as he preached—and his being killed because of his opposition to Nazism—exerted great influence and inspiration for Christians across broad denominations and ideologies, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the anti-communist democratic movement in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

Bonhoeffer is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of several Christian denominations on the anniversary of his death, 9 April. This includes many parts of the Anglican Communion, where he is sometimes identified as a martyr.

In our own troubled time, Bonhoeffer’s courage in the face of evil, and his suffering in the face of persecution, stand as a testament to true Christian witness — the very essence of what it means to be a “martyr.”

His likeness is preserved in Westminster Abbey, alongside other martyrs, including St. Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr.

He continues to teach and inspire Christians today.

“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them,” he wrote. “Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear. . . . We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.”

He also urged us to be open to God’s will in our lives, whatever that may be.

“We must be ready,” he said, “to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pray for us.

March 23 2019 – “Poland – Decline and fall – A famed priest’s statue is toppled amid a widening clerical abuse crisis” – Catholic Herald – Jonathan Luxmoore – March 22 2019 – Page 14

 

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March 23 2019 – “Poland – Decline and fall – A famed priest’s statue is toppled amid a widening clerical abuse crisis” – Catholic Herald – Jonathan Luxmoore – March 22 2019 – Page 14

Officials in Gdansk have ordered the removal of a monument to a Catholic priest linked to the Solidarity movement amid accusations that he was a paedophile, as the country’s bishops take new steps to combat clerical abuse.

“We’ll probably never know the truth, since this key figure is no longer alive,” explained Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Gdansk’s newly elected mayor.

“While I value the presumption of innocence principle, there can only be one decision, given the current level of emotions.

The mayor spoke as the city council voted to demolish the statue of Fr Henryk Jankowski (1936-2010), an associate of Lech Walesa and other Solidarity leaders, who was rector of Gdansk’s St Brygida parish during the 1980’s strikes at the nearby shipyards.

The vote, also stripping the priest of his honorary citizenship, was boycotted by officials from Poland’s governing Law and Justice party (PiS) and criticised by Solidarity members, who said the accusations against Fr Jankowski were unproven.

Besides celebrating shipyard Masses during the Solidarity protests, Fr Jankowski organised aid for families of imprisoned union activists, but provoked complaints from Jewish organisations for controversial sermons after the 1989 collapse of communist rule.

He was finally dismissed as St Brygida’s rector by Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski, who told clergy in a 2004 letter that Fr Jankowski had created “an unChristian climate”, while stoking “alarming media suspicions” by “receiving boys in his presbytery”

However, the priest told supporters he would not give in to “lies, hypocrisy and infamy”, and continued living in his parish house until his diabetes-related death aged 74.

The statue of Fr Jankowski, erected in a square named after him by a civic committee in 2012 [he died in 2010 – Ed], was toppled overnight in late February by a group complaining that it represented “a presence of evil in the public sphere”. This took place two months after abuse accusations were detailed against Fr Jankowski in the Gazeta Wyborcza.

Although the statue was restored to its plinth under Solidarity protection, Gdansk council noted during its meeting that legal investigations into the priest’s alleged crimes would be impossible in the current atmosphere, and ordered its removal and the renaming of the square.

The move came as Poland’s 157-member bishops’ conference launched an abuse report at its plenary assembly, attended by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and bishops from 11 other countries.

The report listed 382 cases of sexual abuse between 1990 and 2018, and said canonical procedures had been followed by the Church in 95% of instances, with three-quarters brought to completion.

However, it conceded that there had been “a certain ignorance” of Church rules on abuse, and there were “differences of reliability” between Polish dioceses and orders, in responding to enquiries.

 

March 14 2019 -“Topic of the Week – ‘Pius XII was no friend to Hitler'” – The Tablet

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/letters/8/15621/topic-of-the-week-pius-xii-was-no-friend-to-hitler


THE TABLET – LETTERS – MARCH 16 2019 – “PIUS XII WAS NO FRIEND TO HITLER”

In his article “Unsealing the secrets of the wartime pope” (9 March), John Cornwell writes: “The central accusation is undeniable: that … Pius neither condemned Hitler and the Nazis by name, nor mentioned the victims – the Jews – by name.” 

 
May I make the point that, although not condemning Hitler by name, Pius XII is on record as denouncing totalitarian dictatorships, war-mongering, racism, persecution and mass murder.
 
The first encyclical of Pius, Summi Pontificatus, dated 20 October 20 1939, makes this very clear. He clearly condemns Hitler and the Nazis with a strong attack on totalitarianism. This wartime pope specifically condemns those regimes which, by deification of the state, threaten the very spirit of humanity.
 
In December 1940, Pius XII ordered the Congregation of the Holy Office to issue a decree explicitly condemning the mass murders in Nazi Germany and its pursuit of Aryan racial purity. He was no collaborative friend of Hitler and his evil regime, condemning the persecution and extermination of the Jews by his actions. The recent research findings of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation bear this out.
 
When Pius XII died in 1958, Jewish communities, and others, expressed their deep gratitude for what he did, and tried to do, to help save them during the war. 
 
 
RICHARD W. SYMONDS
CRAWLEY, WEST SUSSEX

March 12 2019 – Popes, Bishops, Character Assassins – and The Beatitudes

Wartime Pope Pius XII, maligned by some for alleged lack of condemnation of Hitler’s Nazi regime, considered the Beatitudes precious.
 
In his 1939 Christmas Eve address [known as ‘The Pope’s Five Peace Points’], Pius XII stated:
 
“They [the warring nations] must cultivate that hunger and thirst after justice which is claimed as a beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount, and which supposes as its natural foundation the moral virtue of justice…”  
 
Wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, maligned by some for alleged child sexual abuse, also shared the Pope’s love of the Beatitudes – highlighting his ‘Five Peace Points’ in 1940*.
 
In a letter to his close friend Dietrich Bonhoeffer, imprisoned and later executed by the Nazis, Bishop Bell wrote:
 
“May God guide you and keep you. Let us pray together by reading the Beatitudes”
Richard W. Symonds