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Vatican: Keep Sex Abuse Secret

Roman Catholic bishops should avoid telling congregations that their parish priests sexually abused children if the bishops believe the priests won?t do it again, according to Vatican official Gianfranco Ghirlanda. He says church leaders have no legal or moral responsibilities if such abuse occurs.

The Vatican appeals court judge says church leaders must protect the "good name" of their priests. "From a canon law perspective, the bishop and the superior are neither morally nor judicially responsible for the acts committed by one of their clergy," says Ghirlanda, who is dean of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.His statements are in the influential Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, which reflects the thinking of the Vatican.

Ghirlanda says a priest whose past acts of abuse were exposed "would be totally discredited in front of his parochial community and in fact would be blocked from any effective pastoral action. If the bishop fears the priest could again commit a crime, then he must not entrust to the priest a parish, but must act in a different way."

He also says priests should not be forced to take psychological tests to assess the likelihood of their committing abuse. "To our thinking, it's not admissible that the incriminated cleric be forced to undergo a psychological investigation to determine if his personality is inclined to commit the crimes in question," he writes in the magazine article.

A meeting was organized last month at the Vatican between Pope John Paul II, 12 of the 13 American cardinals and some top American bishops, to discuss the problem. There will be a meeting of American bishops in Dallas on June 13-15. The new rules about sex abuse that are decided there will be passed back to the Vatican for ratification.

David Clohessy, national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says the article appears to be contradicting Pope John Paul II's statement at last month's Vatican summit on sex abuse. "It seems like the pope was very clear last month: there's no place in the ministry for these men ? none ? and it's a crime," Clohessy says. "Ever since, we've seen church leaders hemming and hawing and making exceptions."

Ghirlanda says the relationship between senior church officials and their priests is not comparable to that of an employer and employee. "The cleric doesn't 'work' for the bishop or for the superior, but is at the service of God," he says. ?The cleric's right of good name must be protected by the bishop and superior."

The most famous and best known prophecies about the popes are those attributed to St. Malachy. In 1139, while on a trip to Rome, he received a strange vision of the future popes who were to rule the church until the end of time. St. Malachy wrote down his prophecy and gave it to Innocent II. The document remained forgotten in the Vatican Archives for 400 years, until 1590.

These 112 short prophecies describe individual traits of all future popes from Celestine II, who was elected in the year 1130, until the end of the world. They have proved to be uncannily precise. For example, the prophecy concerning Urban VIII is Lilium et Rosa (the lily and the rose). Urban VIII was a native of Florence and there is a fleur-de-lis on the Florence coat of arms. He had three bees on his escutcheon, and bees gather honey from lilies and roses.

The last of Malachy?s prophecies concerns the end of the world and says, "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End." Petrus Romanus, who according to St. Malachy's list will be the last pope, is the pope who will be elected after the present pope, John Paul II (who is very ill) dies. Therefore, according to St. Malacy, we will soon have The Last Pope. Could these recent scandals be leading to the fall of the Catholic church as we know it?

Read what the French prophet Nostradamus has to say about the popes in ?Nostradamus: the New Revelations? by John Hogue, click here.

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