Extension on the house of not so holy, part two…

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‘The facts about the Catholic Church in this story are incredible!’

Today nuns telling the Pope that the Vatican turned a blind eye to their abuse, highlights the fact that throughout his 40 year career in journalism our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, has never been afraid to take on big institutions like the Roman Catholic (RC) Church.

The following is NOT an April fool joke, but is an Easter Bank holiday read!

Earlier Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of history and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

‘COME OUT AND TELL ME WHY YOU’VE COVERED THIS UP!’

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting. 

 

It seems there is truth in the old adage, ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall’, and journalists like me have played a central role in proving this.

The child abuse scandal has dogged the Roman Catholic Church

Let’s take as an example the Roman Catholic (RC) Church.

OK, it hasn’t exactly fallen (it is still venerated by billions around the world), but the sheen has definitely been taken off this institution.

After revelations of appalling child abuse by priests, now we hear that the Vatican allegedly ignored information about the abuse of nuns.

Gloria Branciani, left, and Mirjam Kovac reported Marko Rupnik to senior Catholic Church officials in the early 1990s but say they were rebuffed and dismissed

Pope Francis has been called on to launch an investigation, after Gloria Branciani says she was forced to watch pornographic videos, and take part in a threesome by one priest, but because he had powerful friends in high places in the RC Church it was all covered up.

She claims she was pushed close to suicide, and is one of 20 nuns who say they were sexually abused by the priest, Marko Rupnik, but these details were disregarded by the Vatican.

They behaved improperly

This has all come in the wake of worrying news about how those with dog collars behaved, and that it was concealed by the RC Church.

For instance in a recent book, alarming fresh material has come to light of how the RC Church failed spectacularly during World War II. But these failings have also reached into the present day, and respect for the Church seems bizarre in the context of what has happened.

Phil on Panorama exposed what was going on

In a 2000 BBC Panorama programme called Power To Abuse, I uncovered disturbing evidence of how the RC Church in Wales behaved as paedophile priests abused children.

This has been remembered, however, and a few years ago, I had to endure horrendous online comments. One insult concerned a television ‘reporter’ who had posted pictures of herself on Facebook (FB) or Twitter (as it then was) in skimpy clothes: “Your article on Ellie Pitt was bordering on mysogynistic bullying, a really pathetic article written by a bitter individual who was a complete failure as a BBC correspondent and also loved bashing the Catholic Church with your disgraceful Panorama programme”.

Catholic priests have not always held up good moral standards

Yet the industrial scale of child abuse by RC priests worldwide over many years is now clear – and journalists like me (not the Church itself!) have been instrumental in revealing what has been going on.

Some of these outrageous events date back to the 1950s and earlier, but only in the last few years awful stories have emerged of molestation more recently by priests in the US, Canada, Argentina, Australia and Ireland.

The Boston Globe Spotlight team’s work has hit the headlines

In 1995, the Archbishop of Vienna, stepped down amid sexual abuse disclosures, rocking the RC Church there.

In the US, determined reporting by the investigations unit of the Boston Globe (as captured in the Oscar-winning 2015 film ‘Spotlight’) exposed widespread abuse and how paedophile priests were moved around by RC leaders instead of being held accountable.

‘Who me?’

It prompted people to come forward across the globe, saying that they, too, had been abused. A five-year Australian inquiry in 2017 found that “tens of thousands of children” were sexually abused over decades. A damning investigation found that some 216,000 children in France had also been sexually abused by members of the RC clergy since 1950.

Pius XII’s actions have been questioned

This kind of outrageous behaviour comes after new material emerged, of how the RC kept its mouth shut as the Nazis and their fascist allies committed terrible crimes

A book about Pope Pius XII came out last year, called The Pope At War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini And Hitler, and it contained more alarming information about him. It was reviewed more recently in the London Review of Books (LRB), so that the appalling actions of Pius XII could be exposed.

Sir Richard J. Evans has pulled no punches

The review was entitled Why did he not speak out? and was by Sir Richard J. Evans, the renowned historian of Germany, and author of many books on the Third Reich and the Nazis. This title is drawn from the comments of the British envoy to the holy see during World War IIFrancis D’Arcy Godolphin Osborne, who wrote in 1942: “Why does He (Pius XII) not speak out, with names attached”.

Years later, in 1999, the British journalist John Cornwell had dared to bring out the alarming truth about the RC Church, in his book Hitler’s Pope where he painted Pius XII as a Nazi sympathiser.

A ‘discreet silence’ was maintained

Sir Richard said in his piece a few weeks ago how: “Pius XII…maintained a discreet silence”, as Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz. He also stated: “Even the German priest acting as chaplain to the SS in Rome expressed surprise at the Church leadership’s ‘indifference’ to the obvious fate of the deported Jews”.

Throughout this awful round-up, the Church was mainly concerned that some of those arrested were RC converts or Jews married to non-Jewish Catholics, so (anxious not to offend the Pope) these people were let go by the SS.

Ernst von Weizsäcker was surprised

The RC Church HAD voiced its displeasure earlier, but predominantly that it was all being done too near to the Papal residence. The German ambassador Ernst von Weizsäcker reported to his superiors in Berlin that the Vatican was particularly shocked that the action took place, so to speak, under the pope’s windows”.

In June 1941 the Pope refused to say anything, too, when the Germans, with allies which included Italy, launched Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union), and committed horrendous atrocities.

Pius XII did not speak out either, when the Nazi puppet regime in Slovakia began arresting 10s of thousands of Jews and sending them to Auschwitz. He stayed silent when German troops massacred 335 Italian civilians and political prisoners in the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome.

Why did the Pope stay silent?

Pius XII was very well aware of the Holocaust, but did nothing publicly about it, and was even told directly by one Italian priest, Pirro Scavizzi, about the mass transportation of Jews to death camps, as well as their murder. Mr Scavizzi said to the Pope that Jews had been: “…piled like animals, into old train cars, and beaten down in every way, and then, after several days of this martyrdom, they were murdered”.

At least nuns weren’t murdered – sexual abuse allegations are bad enough

At least those nuns weren’t murdered – being allegedly sexual abused by a priest and it being covered up is bad enough.

Of course none of this was in the Pope’s Easter message yesterday…

 

 

The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (during which he has uncovered any amount of wrong-doing in major institutions) as he was gripped by the incurable neurological condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how the BBC saying sorry for the way it handled a complaint about Huw Edwards, highlights the enormity of what took place, an assurance that a “very clear code of conduct” was followed, as well as how Wales has played a central role in the scandal.