Tag: Vatican

Tony Anatrella

Suspended Predator Priest is Welcome at Vatican Conference

It’s SO counter-intuitive. It’s SO hard to imagine.

How could Catholic officials – after decades of devastating, embarrassing and morale-destroying prosecutions, lawsuits and exposes – how could they NOT radically reform and prevent the widespread sexual abuse of boys and girls in the church? How could they NOT work overtime to fix this?

But they don’t, and here’s the latest head-scratching, mind-numbing proof (AND a reminder of why each of us has to do our part to safeguard kids in the church).

“Prominent French priest barred from ministry over abuse attends Vatican priesthood conference.” That’s the headline in the Feb. 18, 2022 National Catholic Reporter.


Let us briefly break it down for you.

He’s rabidly anti-gay.

He has said publicly – just a few years back – that the church hierarchy does NOT have an obligation to report abuse to police or prosecutors.

And he’s purportedly been removed from public ministry due to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

But he’s not been defrocked. His “priestly faculties” have not been removed. He’s not been sentenced to “prayer and penance.” He’s not being kept isolated or supervised.

In fact, he is now “attending a major Vatican conference on the priesthood, organized, in part, to help the church turn a corner on abuse,” according to the NCR.

Msgr. Tony Anatrella, is “a psychotherapist who was once a Vatican adviser on matters regarding human sexuality.” In 2018, he was banned from ministering as a priest by the Archbishop of Paris.

Abuse allegations against Tony Anatrella  “first surfaced in the early 2000’s and continued to mount over the next two decades,” reports the NCR. In 2017, the Paris Archdiocese launched an investigation into the controversial priest, resulting in his removal from public ministry.

Last June 2021, Parisian church officials announced that Msgr. Tony Anatrella would even face a canonical trial.

That seems good, right? His supervisors taking action against him seems encouraging.

Why then do they allow him to leave the country, go to the literal and figurative center of Catholicism, and insert himself into this high-level, high-visibility conference?

And when we say “they,” we mean two groups.

First, there are his bosses and colleagues in Paris. (Surely he told at least one of his peers he was planning to go to Rome.)

Second, there are his bosses in the Vatican. (Surely someone in that vast bureaucracy was assigned to pay attention to who got invited and who registered and who showed up for the conference.)

Could he have ‘slipped through the cracks’ somehow?

That seems highly unlikely. He’s the author of a dozen books on marriage, family and sexuality.  He was a consultant to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers. The abuse reports against him are multiple and surfaced relatively recently. They attracted considerable public attention.

So what does this all mean? Tragically, it means that despite emphatic, sincere-sounding pledges of reform are just that – sincere-sounding, but not real. It means that clergy who want to do right must get discouraged, watching their wrongdoing colleagues continue to be welcome in their clergy ranks. It means that predators can be ousted from one city yet show up in another city and be welcomed among their peers.

And it of course means that none of us should relax. None of us should give Catholic officials any ‘benefit of the doubt’ on abuse. None of us should sit on suspicions or knowledge of child sex crimes or cover ups in the church, because if we don’t keep exposing the truth and protecting the children, who will?

Where did The Vatican Go Wrong with Cardinal McCarrick?

One sentence says it all about McCarrick & the Vatican

“McCarrick’s denial was believed.”

In the nearly 460 page just-released Vatican report supposedly about the church personnel who enabled a top church official’s sexual abuse, this single sentence strikes us at Horowitz Law as particularly telling.


The report’s title is “Report on the Vatican’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Regarding Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.” So the focus is supposed to be on high-ranking Catholic officials who helped McCarrick, not about McCarrick himself.

But that sentence – “McCarrick’s denial was believed.”- mentions only the proven wrongdoer, McCarrick. And it implies that McCarrick is the bad guy, for denying his crimes.

It tells us nothing new. We all know McCarrick denies guilt. So do most predators.

What we need to know is “Who fell for McCarrick’s predictable deceit?”

And here, this sentence – like much of the report itself – tells us nothing.

One could argue that the enablers who dismissed McCarrick’s accusers and thus helped keep McCarrick in power are perhaps even worse than McCarrick himself.

But, thanks to this report which has been touted as ‘transparent’ and ‘unprecedented,’ we still don’t know who all those enablers are.

Look at this a slightly different way: At a minimum, an accusation leveled but reportedly disbelieved, must involve at least two individuals: the one who claimed innocence and the one who accepted that claim.

We know who the first person is: McCarrick. But who’s the second one or ones? The Vatican conveniently doesn’t name him or them. Who “believed” McCarrick’s denial?

That’s what the Catholic hierarchy repeatedly does: focus solely on the already-known offender and ignore or conceal the still-hidden enablers. (We say ‘enablers’ because rarely is there only one other church staffer who saw, suspected, suffered or learned of the abuse and hid it or overlooked it. Usually, there are several or many.).

Another reason this sentence is telling: like much of the rest of the report, this sentence conveniently uses the passive voice to protect those who stood silently by or actively helped McCarrick move up in the church.

For instance, Cardinal Carlo Maria Vigano has long blasted Francis and his colleagues for mishandling the McCarrick case. But the report merely says Vigano’s account “is sharply disputed.” By whom? No answer. Why? No answer.

These omissions and vague phrases are not the ‘transparency’ Francis and other top church bureaucrats repeatedly promise.

Third, it is of course possible that this sentence is a lie: “McCarrick’s denial was believed.” (In fact, why SHOULD we believe essentially the same Vatican system now, when by their own admission, they’ve kept secret terrible sexual assaults and cover ups for decades?)

It could well be that McCarrick’s denial was NOT believed. It’s very possible that several top church officials thought “Well, some years ago McCarrick hurt some adults. But we’ve successfully kept it all hidden for a very long time. And he’s an incredibly popular prelate, prolific fundraiser and shrewd diplomat. So let’s keep doing what we’ve done. Let’s not rock the boat.”

And they kept silent.

A final point: several times, the report notes praises various parts of McCarrick’s skills and performance, stressing most of all his prodigious fundraising.

Such language excuses but doesn’t explain, much less prevent, actions and inaction that let McCarrick keep abusing while winning ever-more accolades and promotions.

And such language of course rubs more salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of abuse victims. (Think Bill Cosby victims like hearing “But he’s SO funny” or Harvey Weinstein victims like hearing “But Harvey sure is talented.”)

At the same time, in this report, Vatican officials also claim the big bucks McCarrick raked in weren’t all that connected to his continuous climb up the clerical ladder.


McCarrick gave at least $600,000 to church higher-ups, mostly to Vatican officials. He gave $90,000 to Pope John Paul II and $291,000 to Pope Benedict, according to the Washington Post.


And this had little or nothing to do with the claim that McCarrick’s denial was believed?

Come on!



Resignations Just Don’t Cut It Anymore

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Sadly, the popes of the Catholic church seem incapable of learning this lesson.

Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of French Cardinal Phillipe Barbarin who was convicted in early March of refusing to report child sex crimes by a serial predator priest (Fr. Bernard Preynat) to legal authorities.


And way back in 1997, Australian Bishop Robert Mulkearns submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul after being investigated by police for covering up the crimes of Fr. Gerald Ridsdale, who raped and sexually abused more than 50 kids.

In between, bishops in Austria, Canada, Wales, Argentina, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Brazil, and Paraguay did likewise.

Seven bishops resigned in Ireland.

Just a year ago, EVERY ONE of Chile’s 31 bishops did the same.


Finally, in just one COUNTRY, (the US), in just one SEASON – the spring of 2015 – Pope Francis accepted the resignations of three bishops: one from Missouri (Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph) and two from Minnesota (Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, both of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese.

STILL, clergy sex crimes and cover ups continue. Evidently, letting bad bishops resign is not doing the trick.

Why? In part, because of the wise observations by the brilliant staff at BishopAccountability.org who write:

“In all cases, the disgraced prelate retained the title of bishop and remained active in the church. To date, no pope has confirmed that he removed a culpable bishop because of his handling of offending clergy.”


(Perhaps the most famous case of coddling a corrupt Catholic prelate: Boston’s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law, who later headed one of four prominent ‘papal basilicas’ in Rome and participated in the 2005 papal conclave).


Since resignations aren’t deterring wrongdoing, what might popes do instead with members of the church hierarchy won’t behave?

How about firing them?

Or demoting them?

Or demanding they work a year in a soup kitchen, if they want to keep their salaries and benefits?

Or, for starters, how about just publicly saying “Bishop John Smith is being disciplined BECAUSE he knew of or suspected child sex crimes and hid them instead of reporting them?

(Compare this straightforward approach with the incredibly vague statements popes have repeatedly isued when they accept bishops’ resignations: “It was announced today that the Holy Father has accepted the resignation tendered by the Most Reverend XX, in accordance with Canon 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.”)

Or, how about yanking many if not most of the perks of their positions?

But again, no matter how it’s done or phrased, letting bad bishops resign isn’t preventing bad behavior. Expecting resignations to do so ignores Einstein’s wisdom.

Popes, starting with Francis, must find the backbone to forcibly and publicly oust them.


vatican panel horowitz law

New Vatican Panel. Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For Change

Please join us in a quick little experiment

Feel like playing along with a little experiment?

Let’s imagine you wanted to set up a panel on the Catholic abuse and cover up crisis.

BUT. . . you want to make sure it’s totally ineffective.

How would you do it? Here’s our recipe.

First, we’d appoint only Catholics. More insularity in an institution that’s been insular for centuries can’t help.

Second, we’d pick only men. More male dominance in an institution that’s been dominated by men for centuries can’t help.

Third, we’d tap only ordained clerics. More clerics in an institution that’s been crippled by clericalism for centuries can’t help.

Fourth, we’d appoint high-ranking clerics. More men who’ve risen to the top in an institution in which clergy sex crimes and cover ups have been rampant for centuries can’t help.

OK, let’s be reasonable. For the sake of ‘credibility,’ we’d pick one panel member – just one – who is NOT a priest or bishop.

But remember, our goal is to make sure the panel is completely unproductive.

So fifth, instead of picking an expert on abuse, we’d pick an Average Catholic Joe, with no particular experience or training or education on abuse. Less knowledge about the possible causes or cures for the crisis can’t help.

Sixth, we’d pick men who are already super-busy. Having little time to really address the crisis can’t help.

Finally, we’d throw in a former papal spokesman. Yet another guy in the room who has spent years ‘spinning’ this crisis can’t help.

Now, we apologize for our deceit. What we’ve just described is no experiment. It’s exactly what Pope Francis has done.

He’s created yet another abuse panel – one more added to the hundreds that have existed for decades in the church. And its composition alone almost guarantees its ineffectiveness.

Don’t take our word for it. At the bottom, we’ve provided a list of the panel members and a link from a Catholic publication that gives you all the details.

Down the road, we at Horowitz Law may make more observations about this new panel. But for now, we submit that all you need to know about the new papal abuse committee can be summed up in one sentence: It’s eight, hand-picked Catholic guys, seven of whom are already-very-busy big shot clerics.


Looking for change? Don’t hold your breath.

(Think we’re being too hard on the pontiff? Listen then, to a mainstream Catholic journalist, Inez San Martin’s added take on the panel:

First, all the people appointed have highly demanding jobs already, and they’re not giving them up anytime soon.

(Most) have strong ties with the Roman Curia, meaning the Church’s central government.

Despite the fact that an estimated 40 percent of cases of clerical abuse currently being studied in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith come from Latin America (but) only one member comes from this part of the world.

Africa is the region where the Catholic Church is growing most rapidly, there are no Africans on the team.)

THE PANEL (according to Crux): Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, German Father Hans Zollner, Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra; Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Father Federico Lombardi (former papal spokesman for both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis) and Andrew Azzopardi (a college professor).

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex-Abuse Cases Reported This Year

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex Abuse Cases Reported in 2019

Late December 2019, the Associated Press reported that the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year. The CDF said there are four times more complaints this year than a decade ago, with many coming from countries that had no previous reported history of sexual abuse cases.

Monsignor John Kennedy said that he plans to expand his struggling, skeleton staff of 17 and add more people to help with the onslaught of cases.  “We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” Kennedy said, referring to allegations of abuse that occurred years ago. 

For decades the United States has reported the most cases of clergy sex abuse. Now, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland are among the countries with the most cases being sent to the CDF. 

For nearly 20 years the CDF has processed 6,000 abuse cases. Pope Francis has said that it still had a backlog of 2,000. Now, the CDF must manage with the globalization of the sex abuse scandal.

Kennedy said the Vatican was committed to fighting clergy sex abuse and just needed more time to process the cases. “We’re going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given,” he said.

In an attempt to streamline the project, the CDF is working on a database to access statistics from cases previously processed. It will also publish a guidebook for bishops and religious superiors to use so they can more efficiently process cases.

The role of priests in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education, counseling, and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A clergyman who sexually violates children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.