Vatican sponsored experts have estimated priests have sexually abused over 100,000 children in the USA alone. That is many more, obviously, than the number of Penn State child sexual abuse victims of a football coach protected by an athletic administration that Obama, in effect, strongly condemned several times during the 2012 presidential election campaign.                                                                                                                       
When the courageous Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, set up over a year ago her Royal Commission to investigate institutional child abuse, reportedly 96% of Australians supported her decision to investigate child abuse. The widespread abuses that have been mainly disclosed in Australlia have been under the cover of Catholic and Anglican hierarchies and The Salvation Army’s leadership, locally and worldwide, all of whom have major presences in the USA as well.
Gillard has just superbly confirmed her strong commitment to the “rightness” of her Royal Commission decision in her generous tribute at the Memorial Service for the prominent and remarkable Australian activist, Lewis Blayse. The tribute was read earlier this month by his impressive daughter, Aletha. She is carrying on bravely her father’s advocacy efforts, as shown in her moving reading of Gillard’s speech in the video here:
Julia Gillard’s bold stand followed a similar one against the Irish bishops and the Vatican by the popular Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, as shown in the video here:
Will President Obama display the courage comparable to that which Gillard and Kenny displayed?
Are children in the USA as valued by political leaders in the USA as much as they have been valued by political leaders in Australia and Ireland?
While Pope Francis is currently still very popular, his halo is dimming as (1) his less than stellar record in Argentina is becoming better known worldwide, (2)  his stonewalling on holding bishops accountable becomes clearer,  (3) his support for continuing the ban on contraception becomes understood more widely, and (4) his support for women’s equality remains weak.
Moreover, Francis’ subordinate US bishops are directly challenging Obama on his key Obamacare program and his US Supreme Court legacy in anticipation of November’s key US Congressional elections.
Obama appears to have much to gain, and little to lose, in confronting Pope Francis on Thursday.
Many in the USA and even worldwide, including Aletha Blayse, are urging President Obama to set up a US national investigation commission like Julia Gillard did. Lewis Blayse was also in favor of it before his recent untimely and sudden death. Reflecting on her legacy here, Gillard indicated in her remarks at Lewis’ Memorial, the following:
Although Lewis was a child of the most horrific abuse, he was one of the fathers of the civic instrument, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that will be crucial to our ensuring that what Lewis and so many thousands endured cannot happen again. It was Lewis’ voice – crying out from decades of memories that could never go away, that he could never escape – that I heard. And it was his voice that helped me to find my voice, as Prime Minister, to determine that we must never allow such unspeakable acts to become part of the fabric of our society. That we would, through this arduous process of a Royal Commission, silence the unspeakable – forever. Lewis found, somehow, the courage to come forward. What happened to him ravaged him, but it did not defeat his soul or his spirit. Because of Lewis, millions of Australians who have, thank goodness, had no understanding or experience with what Lewis suffered, now have a true appreciation of an evil that we – that our country, our authorities, our institutions – let happen.But no more …  we are all strengthened by Lewis’refusal to let this terrible chapter in our history escape our determination to uncover it, expose it, understand it, and resolve to never tolerate these things again. So that our children can never have their innocence stolen so cruelly.  Not here in Australia. Lewis showed us so clearly what we must never allow to occur, as individuals, as a society, as Australians …”
And not here again in the USA, God willing. Just  as Australia is uncovering thoroughly the pervasive and horrendus institutional child sexual abuse to make sure it is not repeated, so should the USA, under President Obama’s leadership. This is especiallyimportant,  since the same international religious organizations operate in the USA, apparently taking their cover-up marching orders at times from Rome and the UK, as has been evident in Australia.
President Obama’s scheduled visit with Pope Francis next Thursday is apparently already paying some dividends on curtailing priest child abuse. Apparently to head off potential public pressure from Obama,  Francis has after a year as Pope finally just announced the initial European members of his child abuse prevention Commission. While the Commission’s undetermined and vague mandate does not appear to include holding bishops accountable for protecting priest abusers, it may be enough to head off President Obama’s raising the abuse issue strongly and publicly next Thursday. Let’s hope not.
Of course, the Pope is also facing additional pressure next week as his new Vatican financial czar, Cardinal George Pell, will be facing a tough grilling under oath at the Australian Royal Commission’s institutional child sexual abuse investigation hearings. Last week, Pell’s long time aide was questioned and gave tesitimony that undercut some of Pell’s reported earlier statements. Pell’s new testimony may also help explain better why the Pope has pulled Pell back to Rome for a top financial post he seems hardly qualified for.
Cardinal Pell is due to take the stand at the Royal  Commission on Monday (3/24), where he will likely face tough questions over the  Catholic Church’s mishandling of abuse claims.
The Commission will examine Cardinal Pell’s role in the church’s treatment of  John Ellis, who sought damages for abuse by a priest. The abuse, which lasted years, began when Mr.  Ellis was a 13-year-old altar boy.
The Commission has already heard that the Cardinal was in charge of the infamous case  in which the Catholic Church fought Mr Ellis’s claim.
A Court of Appeal had already found the Church was not a legal entity that could be  sued. The case established the defence that has allowed the Catholc Church in Australia to escape  paying damages to victims in similar cases. Cardinal Pell’s appearance at the investigation will be one of his last public  engagements before he moves to Rome to take up a senior role managing the  Vatican’s finances. It may also explain more fully why Pell is leaving his beloved Australia.
Incidentally, the naming of four women to the abuse Commission may indicate Francis is also considering adding women as full time participants to October’s Synod on the Family. Francis’ favored Cardinal theologian, German Walter Kasper, after addessing 150+ childless and celibate cardinals privately recently on family theological matters, indicated in an interview that he thought it was “absurd” that women have not yet been added as full time Synod participants. Apparently, Cardinal Kasper was not impressed by 150+ cardinals’ insights into marriage, divorce, children, sex,  contraception, et al. Hello?
With respect to next week’s scheduled Vatican meeting and the upcoming US Congressional elections, please note that Pope Francis recently held after almost a year his much anticipated meeting with his select council of eight cardinals, with Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley as the US representative. The meeting reportedly focused on Francis’ top priorities: (1) consolidating his worldwide control over his childless male hierarchical subordinates, and (2) reviewing his efforts to clean up sordid Vatican finances in order, among other goals, to minimize Vatican cardinals’ potential criminal liability exposure for financial misdeeds.
At the same time, Francis and his media echo chamber have increasingly tried to claim counterfactually and inconsistently, apparently to avoid potential legal liability for covering up for priest child abusers,  that popes do not control local Church officials. Other Vatican challenges, including addressing pressing issues affecting child protection, responsible family planning and respecting gay persons’ rights, have continued mainly simmering on Francis’ back burner, if not already precluded by his often inconsistent utterances.
The sudden  announcement, just before Pell’s testimony and Obama’s visit, of the eight abuse Commission members, with no specific mandate at present, may be enough, however,  to defuse this issue publicly before Obama’s meeting on Thursday with Francis.
Please note selected and/or updated relevant excepts below of my recent advice to President Obama on Pope Francis’ overall strategy.
Please note, President Obama, in anticipation of your March 27 meeting with Pope Francis and for the sake of defenseless innocents and your desired legacy, my concerns as a fellow Harvard Law School graduate and as a Catholic grandparent about the unfolding strategy of Pope Francis and his billionaire backers. Francis apparently is seeking, in effect, to exempt the Vatican both from enforcement of international  laws and any independent judicial oversight, especially for child abuse related crimes. Many of these laws apply to and are enforcible against even US Presidents. Stalin was right that the pope has no divisions, but he has legions of hard nosed lawyers, creative publicists, opportunistic apologists and self-interested donors.
You, President Obama, appear to be viewed by the Vatican as a major obstacle to Francis’ plans, an obstacle that he seems determined to overcome, as ex-Pope Benedict unsuccessfully tried to do in the 2012 elections. Surely we learned explicitly at Harvard Law School of the essential importance of applying laws equally to all, the powerful and the the weak alike. Francis must know you understand that.
For over 1,700 years, popes have played politics internationally. For centuries, popes made alliances directly with other monarchs. In the current democratic era, popes have often pursued the hierarchy’s interest through mutually beneficial and privately agreed exchanges with plutocrats and politicians, including tyrants, who were seeking papal endorsements to help attract national Catholic voter support.
Through these exchanges, popes have often secured preferential treatment and significant control of key areas like education, as well as financial and tax subsidies. In the process, some popes have often slickly subordinated Jesus’ New Testament teachings and spiritual values, such as helping the disadvantaged and protecting the innocent, especially children and women, to papal political expediency, economic advantage and pious propaganda.
The Vatican plays political hardball in the USA, as your Secretary of State, John Kerry, learned painfully in 2004 when ex-Pope Benedict, Cardinal Sodano, and the current Vatican Secretary of State and Sodano protege, Cardinal-designate Parolin, pushed US bishops hard to help elect George W. Bush. Tellingly, Cardinal Sodano reportedly felt sufficiently entitled for his 2004 political support of Bush to openly ask Bush’s US Secretary of State in 2005 to help deflect abuse survivor litigation discovery subpoenas directed at the Vatican over covering up for priest child abusers. Apparently, Francis, Parolin and Sodano would still like to return to the years of special treatment under the Bush White House that you seemingly refuse to offer them.....