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St John Paul II’s abuse record defended by his long-time secretary

“The emerging opinions that John Paul II was sluggish in guiding the Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by some clerics are prejudicial and contradict the historical facts,” saysCardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop emeritus of Krakow.

Pope John Paul II prays during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2003. (CNS photo by Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Krakow, Poland, Mar 21, 2019 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, a personal friend and close collaborator of St. John Paul II, this week defended the Polish pope’s record on the abuse crisis, which has lately come under criticism from some areas.

“The emerging opinions that John Paul II was sluggish in guiding the Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by some clerics are prejudicial and contradict the historical facts,” the archbishop emeritus of Krakow wrote in a statement March 20.

St. John Paul II “was shocked,” Cardinal Dziwisz said. “He had no intention of tolerating the crime of pedophilia in the Church and fought against it.”

Cardinal Dziwisz was ordained a priest in 1963 by St. John Paul II, who was then an auxiliary bishop of Krakow. When Wojtyla was made Archbishop of Krakow the following year, then-Fr. Dziwisz became his secretary – a role he served in until the pope’s death in 2005.

Dziwisz was appointed Archbishop of Krakow shortly after his mentor’s death, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2016.

In his statement on John Paul’s abuse record, Dziwisz gave several examples of the actions the pope took against abuse, beginning with the United States at the start of the crisis in the 1980s.

John Paul, he said, “first observed the activities of the episcopate of the United States, and when he came to the conclusion that new tools were needed to fight against these crimes, he gave the church superiors new powers.”

The pope’s 1994 indult for U.S. bishops and, two years later, for Irish bishops, approved a “zero-tolerance” policy concerning abuse by clergy, Dziwisz stated.

“These were, for the bishops, an unambiguous indication of the direction in which they should fight,” he said.

“When it became clear that the local episcopates and religious superiors were still unable to cope with the problem, and the crisis was spreading to other countries, [Pope John Paul II] recognized that it does not concern only the Anglo-Saxon world but has a global character,” he recalled.

Dziwisz said that the pope was also quick to help the local Churches and bishops both on his own initiative and when asked.

He also pointed to John Paul II’s Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, on protection of the sanctity of the sacraments, which was published in April 2001, nearly a year before the widely-known 2002 Boston Globe “Spotlight” reports. With that document, the pope promulgated norms on “the most serious crimes” for the entire Church.

“We know the groundbreaking importance of this legal act,” Dziwisz added. “John Paul II reserved all sexual crimes committed by clergy against minors under the age of 18 to the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Court of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

“He also obliged each bishop and superior religious to report to this Congregation all such crimes, if their probability was confirmed in the preliminary investigation provided for by the Code of Canon Law. Further proceedings were continued under the control of the Apostolic Court.”

In April 2002, following the Boston Globe report, John Paul II summoned the cardinals of the United States to the Vatican to speak about the abuse crisis.

It is thanks to the clear rules of John Paul II that the degree of abuse in the U.S. has lowered, Dziwisz said.

Dziwisz also spoke about John Paul II’s part in the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, who was found to have lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children. Initial accusations against Maciel emerged in the late 1990s.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age and Maciel died in 2008.

According to Dziwisz, recent claims that John Paul II “was covering up” the criminal activities of Maciel are contradicted by the facts.

He noted that the accusations against Maciel were already being investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 2004, under John Paul II’s pontificate, and that at that time, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who was the Promoter of Justice, was sent to Mexico and the United States, alongside another lawyer, to conduct the investigation.

“The decision to initiate this investigation could only be taken with the knowledge and approval of John Paul II,” the cardinal stated, adding that these processes continued also through the sede vacante and until the conclusion of the process in 2006 with Pope Benedict XVI’s verdict.

To this day, John Paul II’s actions serve “as a reference point for all those committed to fighting against the crime of sexual abuse of minors by clerics, Dziwisz stated.

“This has been confirmed by the summit in the Vatican convened by Pope Francis, who in the fight against this problem is following with determination the path of his predecessors.”

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  1. Satan, Nazis, and Communists could not suppress Saint Pius XII or Saint John Paul II; what shame that many people, including Catholics, now choose to believe lies.

    • absolutely correct. ST John Paul II was at the avant guarde of the sexual abuse crisis and as Cardinal Dziwisz said he did put Church laws into place, he did call in his Archbishops and Bishops.I believe the real fly in the ointment was the gay lavender episcopal/clerical mafia group already well in place and hidden, however. St. JP II would not have known who they were … but they were right there in the Vatican..– lying and protecting one another. From there they spread their tentacles into local dioceses and chanceries, seminaries. This is what St JPII did not know and neither his faithful secretary AB Diswisz—- lets also remember that various congregations already had homosexual clergy inside… but ‘they were all hiding one antoher’… ‘noone wanted to talk first’… This is why St John Paul II could not ‘find them’ and ‘remove them’ .. Many Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops for sure would have known who these wolves were in their chanceries, diocese – but they too hid them!!! This is the truth ………..
      St JP II did incredible work for the Church – noone should have the audacity to criticize him …. go and criticize those clergy who have lied and cheated.. and still do! Those are the ones that need to be removed from religious life..

      ” When it became clear that the local episcopates and religious superiors were still unable to cope with the problem, and the crisis was spreading to other countries, [Pope John Paul II] recognized that it does not concern only the Anglo-Saxon world but has a global character,” he recalled.

      Dziwisz said that the pope was also quick to help the local Churches and bishops both on his own initiative and when asked.

  2. Over many years there were reports on Fr. Marcel Maciel and his abusive lifestyle. There was an extensive cover-up of Maciel’s lifstyle by the Vatican and most of the Catholic press because it would tarnish the reputation John Paul II, who warmly praised and repeatedly honored Maciel.

    Maciel was a criminal, a sociopath and a multi abuser of young men and teens including his own son. Maciel had also lived secret lives with two women and fathered three children.

    Below are the 8 former seminarians who sent the Vatican sworn affidavits in 1998 alleging that Father Marcel Maciel had molested them. Several years earlier, 20 or so others claimed they were sexually abused by Maciel. All of this is easily verifiable. None of the accusers filed legal action or sought financial compensation from the Legionaries or the Catholic Church. Many of them remain loyal Catholics despite being slandered and harassed by supporters of Pope John Paul. There have been no reports of apologies to Maciel’s victims and for the slander they had to endure from Church sources for reporting the abuse.

    Rev. Felix Alarcon, of Venice, Fla., who opened the Legion’s first U.S. base in the Woodmont section of Milford, Conn., in 1965.
    Juan Vaca, former priest of Holbrook, N.Y., who was president of the Legionaries in the United States from 1971 to 1976.
    Fernando Perez Olvera, an engineer in Mexico
    Alejandro Espinosa Alcala, a Legion seminarian in the early 1950s who today is a rancher in rural Mexico.
    Jose Barba, a Harvard-educated literary scholar at one of Mexico’s leading universities, the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico.
    Saul Barrales Arellano, who has taught in Catholic schools in Mexico for many years since leaving the Legion.
    Juan Manuel Fernandez Amenabar, a Legion priest who in the early 1980s served as president of the Legionaries’ Northern Anahuac University in Mexico City.
    Jose Antonio Perez, a Mexico City lawyer.

    These 8 men came forward because Pope John Paul II did not respond to letters from two priests sent through church channels in 1978 and 1989 seeking an investigation. After John Paul praised Maciel in 1994 as an “efficacious guide to youth”, they decided to make their accusations public.

    The Vatican and John Paul maintained silence on the issue. As head of a religious order with ministries in 20 countries, Maciel reports directly to the Holy See and only the Holy See can order an investigation into the allegations. Rev. Owen Kearns, spokesman for the Legionaries described Maciel as the target of a conspiracy by men with “personal vendettas against him” to “fabricate these devastating charges” and destroy his standing.

    Maciel collaborated extensively with the Pope John Paul II. He accompany the Pope on his visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993. Maciel was appointed by the Pope to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day. He was a member of the Interdicasterial Commission for a Just Distribution of Clergy (1991), the IV General Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) (1992), the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World (1994), the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for America (1997) and (since 1994) as a permanent consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy.

    When Cardinal Ratzinger became pope he was forced to act because of the volume of evidence. “A life out of moral bounds … a wasted, twisted life.” is how Pope Benedict described Maciel in 2010.

    Here is coverage by the Hartford Courant beginning in 1997. You can “Google” many others.

    • In view of this avalanche of factual data, how can it be possible that John Paul II was canonized? Something is radically amiss.

  3. The thought some times occurs to me that we do not need those outside the church condemn it- those within suffice. Are we running bankrupt of ways to help take the Church forward and closer to Christ? What is the necessity to discuss or examine, some imagined views on the shortcomings of the Pope John Paul II on his approach to abuse in the Church especially when he is not around us any more nor even remotely condone it. It is my humble view that we should guard against such temptations and work forward on how to excise the Church of this very serious issue. I also feel that those guilty of such abuse should have been man enough to submit their resignations and walk out of the Church immediately and not hang on to it and exploit its shelter to meet their unholy ends. The Holy Church could thereby have been spared of this its violation as well as the ignominy.
    Also,Sir, it is my humble view the headline for this article could have been more clearly and better worded.

    • I wish to further add, in all humility, that abuse by a section of the priest hood, albeit a small minority, is obviously and undoubtedly a very serious and grievous sin before the very eyes of our most merciful Lord and God who is present every where and knows our thought hidden in the inner most recesses of our mind and before him pitch darkness is made light. Do not these weak priests realize this? When a priest is ordained, he becomes in actuality a Father to every body around him as our Lord was. Thus sexual relationship or act albeit even one acquiescence, with any other person is in fact an incestuous relationship no just a very serious sexual transgression. They cease to truly be ‘Father’ from that point and ought to immediately walk out of the Holy Church and not stain it any further with their continued presence as physical bodies within. That they succumbed to an over powering weakness and feelings of deep regret and remorse ought to be grappled by them after they are outside of the priesthood. They cannot in any manner even remotely, hurt the Holy Church of our Lord and God.

  4. Nearly every cleric wanted to save the church from the crimes of child sexual predation. Their method was to cover up the crimes that were becoming more visible in sheer number. Although guilt is possible, St. John Paul II could have escaped the responsibility. After all he was canonized a saint.

  5. We had a discovery of years of sexual abuse committed by a church volunteer in our former parish. This individual & their spouse served on every committee & parish fundraiser. They taught CCD & gave needy students scholarships. They hosted Christmas parties for Knights of Columbus families. They appeared to be one of the most sincerely devout, generous & committed couples in the parish & community at large.
    Before any victims came forth, the only person I’m aware of who was at all suspicious of the convicted spouse had their history of abusive behavior. It can take one to know one.
    Good people look for the good in others & trust who serve those in their church. People who are deviant can recognize deviancy in others much more readily.

    • Agree. I have seen amazing abhorrent behavior in the work environment, by people who I thought would never do such things. So I am not surprised the cover up could have been not seen by St JPII. It almost takes the mind of a criminal investigator to clearly uncover the wrong doings, the clerical mindset may not be up to the task.

  6. The degree of neglect by John Paul II is now a distraction.

    Obviously, something was very wrong then.

    And obviously, the same wrong something still operates in the Church now, under Pope Francis.

    The degree of similarity is that the abuses and coverups involve highly placed Cardinals and Bishops.

    The difference seems to be that whereas John Paul II was neglectful, under Pope Francis being compromised by fornication, adultery, sodomy, abuse, coverup and financial fraud is preferred as a desirable trait in his circle of friends.

  7. Is charity as a theological virtue “seeing only the good in people?” Why the nonsense in Scripture then about “admonishing” anyone?

    In my opinion, We could have done without the Assisi conferences of 1986, 1996 and 2002 and yes, even the “Luminous Mysteries” of 2002…in lieu of prompt Vatican responses to the money-making Maciel…and other ordained and consecrated money-makers. Veritatis Splendor (1993) in practice? Consider “sworn affidavits in 1998 ” and then 2 years before his death Maciel taken out of active ministry in 2006. That’s eight years? Not “sluggish” with respect to Maciel, a religious superior for whom “new powers” and “zero tolerance” were irrelevant since he was only answerable to the Holy See…

    But it wasn’t just because it was Maciel the money-maker. It was Maciel and the Legionnaires of Christ…the new and improved Jesuits loyal to orthodox teaching and Ignatian papal sensibilities and and yes, something akin to St. John Bosco’s “off” and exaggerated sense of papal infallibility and “Vicar of Christ.” In conservative circles weren’t they the real deal and one of the consolations to JPII? Weren’t the Legionnaires of Christ part of this legacy?

    It’s arguable that the “new powers” provided to church superiors during JPIIs papacy enabled even greater non-discipline of Cardinals and Bishops and their maneuvering. Welcome to Bergoglio, current canon law, 2019…and still in action and with a platform, Mahony.

    To those who say we should say nothing and who admire individuals who are oblivious to wrongdoing as if incapable it seems of seeing wrong: your beliefs have more in common with doctrines in “A Course in Miracles” than anything in the Gospels or Epistles or the lives of the Saints. Why don’t more Marian apparitions emphasize “seeing only the good in people?” It seems irreligious, disrespectful to Our Lady to even raise this question rhetorically but I do so because I do believe souls are at stake (have we lost that sense of souls vs reputations? vs legacies? vs litmus test of how we regard these legacies?)

    Along with real teachings/catechesis on “grace,” whatever happened to “state in life,” that those in authority must “do God’s Will” according to their “state in life” and that holiness is “doing God’s Will.”

    Whatever happened to catechesis, doctrine being taught…defining what REAL “charity” is?

    • “and yes, even the “Luminous Mysteries” of 2002”

      Which were a proposal. A proposal is something that you aren’t forced to acccept, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the books that come out now, which either include the “Luminous Mysteries” without any comment at all or else say that John Paul II ordered them to be included.

      They are not required.

      A tangent, I know.

  8. John Paul II deserves better than what’s said here. All we can offer without hard evidence are opinions. There is a fringe perhaps larger of ‘traditional’ Catholics who are vitriolic about everything bar nothing including all the documents of Vat II any changes and lately every pontiff since. There is nothing whatsoever in John Paul II’s writings, personal behavior, history that indicates accommodation of homosexuality. There are however moments when he showed anger and dismissed allegations regarding Marcial Maciel when confronted publicly by reporters. I’m not convinced he was fully aware of the evidence including McCarrick. Knowing now that the ‘Lavender Mafia’ were present at the Vatican it’s likely he was insulated. By the time allegations were widely acknowledged he was in late stage Parkinson’s. Yes I’m prejudiced in his favor because I met him twice offered Mass with him in his chapel and have an interior conviction that he is now and was then a living saint. Was there an excessive desire among Hierarchy to protect the Church? Apparently so although in his case we don’t know. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger appointed prefect of the CDF was devoted to him and realized the error corrected it immediately as soon as he became Benedict XVI. And yes even saints make mistakes and may suffer poor judgment.

    • Yes. I have heard McCarrick was rather charismatic and clever in his personality. How easy it would be for him and those like him to quietly slander those who might speak against them. They would be proactive in this. One of McCarrick’s victims says he visited and told JPII and yet he did nothing – but suppose before the victim’s meeting JPII, McCarrick let it be know that he was trying to spiritually help a young man with past addiction problems and some mental health issues. He might tell JPII to be kind and pray with this visitor, but that the visitor had a tendency to accuse various people of abusing him – part of his mental health issues etc.. Having planted the seeds of doubt – who would one believe – a troubled young man or an archbishop? Such may have occurred in other cases. For every one seminarian that complained about a mentor, there were probably two (fellow members of the lavender mafia) to claim said mentor was a wonderful teacher and that the reporting seminarian was troubled, had been admonished by the mentor and had an ax to grind. How easy to plant drugs or pornography in a seminarian’s room – make him appear troubled or a problem. When there is a network of evil at work, all sorts of things can be hidden, especially from people with trusting personalities.

    • “I have an interior conviction that he is now and was then a living saint.”

      Good grief. Latter-day Saints have ‘interior convictions’ about their prophet too, and he seems to be morally exemplary.

      • Joe it all depends whose side your on regarding yourself and insofar as Mormons it depends on which god you worship.

        • Ramjet I’m not defending Mormon belief at all or their church structure. I was explaining that my simple, interior conviction was not intended as a proof of Pope John Paul II’s sanctity-although he is declared a saint by the Church. And that I was expecting the reader would respect that sentiment for what it is coming from a priest. And certainly I’m offended by the comparison to a sect that we as Catholics do not consider Christian. Anyone can and has a right to express their inner convictions. At the same time I had a Mormon chaplain on my staff whose integrity I would compare to anyone, and which far surpassed the goodness and integrity of Catholics I’ve known.

  9. “This has been confirmed by the summit … convened by Pope Francis, who in the fight against this problem is following … the path of his predecessors.”

    I am sorry but this made me laugh out loud.

  10. I pray God intervene and clean his church from all evil including homosexuality, sexual abuse of minor, steeling, slander and perhaps alcoholisim, all of these are sin in the eyes of God. What are all these people thinking, including popes and all of us catholic in general that by just confessing God is going to let us enter heaven? My brothers and sisters read the sacred scriptures; we not only need to confess our sin but repent and change our ways and live a life of virtual. For God venial sins as mortal sins condemned us all from entering eternity. Do not way to the last minute to repent thinking that purgatory may clean us. Perhaps we will be surprise by the flame of Hell! May God help us all and have mercy on all!

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