Revelations that the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain had a secret sex life cast a shadow over the first day of a meeting of the Church’s cardinals as they gathered to choose a successor to Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus.
The 142 “princes of the church” met in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican to discuss the Church’s problems and the sort of qualities required of the new pope to deal with them.
But officials in Rome and the Vatican’s representative to Britain flatly refused to discuss how long Benedict XVI had known about the accusations against Cardinal O’Brien or how many accusers there are.
Claims emerged yesterday that a fifth priest had come forward as early as October last year, sending a complaint directly to the Vatican about alleged approaches by Cardinal O’Brien.
The Vatican has said that the British cardinal tendered his resignation around November last year, in anticipation of turning 75 this month.
That prompted speculation that the Vatican negotiated a deal months ago in which the British cardinal would retire quietly in an attempt to spare embarrassing the Church. It has been alleged that the deal was brokered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops and one of the front-runners to be elected pope.
Vatican spokesmen refused to answer questions about whether an official investigation had been opened into the scandal. “I have no precise information,” Fr Federico Lombardi said in response to questions by The Daily Telegraph. “We don’t want to spend all week talking about Cardinal O’Brien.”
Remember when Mayor Bloomberg said a few weeks ago, “Nobody’s sleeping on the streets“? Well…
At that time, the Coalition of the Homeless furiously responded by telling reporters that there was “no accurate measurement of New York City’s unsheltered homeless population, and recent City surveys significantly underestimate the number of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers.” So, almost immediately, City Hall released a quick statement, arguing that its main vocalist had misquoted himself and meant to say that he was simply rounding down (…to zero).
And then, yesterday, this became news.
The Coalition for the Homeless released a report to the press, stating that the population of those living in shelters has topped 50,000 for the first time since Great Depression. The number is 50,135, on average, to be exact. And a little less than half of that number consists of children.
“They gave us three minutes to speak today; three minutes is longer than I ever wanted to spend in a yacht club. I am not a tea and crumpets Republican. I am here because there are activists here. I am running a grassroots campaign.”
– Dan Winslow, who is on the board of directors for the Pamet Harbor Yacht & Tennis Club.
The records clearly show a casual, cozy relationship between the Corbetts and those seeking influence in Harrisburg.
* On Dec. 12, 2011, Frank Schoeneman, chief executive of the Pottsville-based Empire Education Group, a leading chain of beauty schools in Pennsylvania and nationally, flew Gov. Corbett on a private jet to an event in Pittsburgh – a jaunt that the governor priced at nearly $1,407, the price of a first-class plane ticket.
Ten months later, Corbett signed a bill into law aimed at aiding cosmetology students who attend schools like those operated by Schoeneman, by making it easier for those students to obtain a state license.
* On Jan. 30, 2010, when then-Attorney General Corbett was running for governor, the powerful Blank Rome law firm bought the Corbetts a pair of $2,500 tickets to attend the Philadelphia Academy of Music anniversary concert. Blank Rome also bought Corbett a $65 ticket to the Phillies’ home opener in 2010.
Blank Rome operates a lobbying shop representing a number of powerful interests in Harrisburg, and in 2010 was getting more involved in issues related to natural-gas drilling, or fracking, in Pennsylvania. Blank Rome is listed as an associate member of the pro-industry Marcellus Shale Coalition.
* In January 2011, when Corbett was becoming governor and his hometown Steelers were deep into a playoff run, his longtime friend Jack Barbour – head of the powerhouse Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney – bought him tickets to two of the games, worth $325. Buchanan Ingersoll is also one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, representing UPMC, as well as energy companies EQT and the Williams Cos. and numerous medical and pharmaceutical outfits.
* When Corbett was sworn in that month, insurance executive Marty Lane, then-chief executivef of Aegis Security Insurance, donated $1,800 to defray the cost of Susan Corbett’s inaugural gown and coat. At the time, Aegis was regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. (Designers Richard and Theresa Andries, of Andries Couture, also donated $8,276 in inaugural clothing for Pennsylvania’s first lady, as well as a $1,500 birthday jacket.)
* As the Daily News reported in January, business executive John Moran of Moran Industries was running a fracking-well waste-recycling business in Sunbury, Pa., that was under scrutiny by the state Department of Environmental Protection at the same time he paid $1,422 for the Corbetts to fly to Rhode Island for a yachting vacation with Moran over July Fourth weekend in 2011. Moran paid an additional $902 to fly the governor to events in Williamsport and Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, 2011.
None of the gift-givers seems particularly eager to talk.
The Supreme Court has this week refused to hear a case from the Catholic Church that it could not be held responsible for abuse committed by one of its priests because he was not an ‘employee’. This means the Catholic Church can now be financially liable for child abuse by priests working under its control.
The case arose when a Portsmouth woman brought a civil action against the Church after claiming she was abused by a priest at a children’s home run by the Church.
The woman, identified in court as Miss E, was seven years old when she was admitted to the Firs Children’ Home in 1970. She alleges she was sexually abused by Father Wilfred Baldwin, a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, who died in 2006.
In November 2011, High Court judge Mr Justice Alistair MacDuffs ruled that the church is legally responsible for sexual abuse committed by its priests. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has now confirmed that decision.
A United Nations investigator has demanded that the US publish classified documents regarding the CIA’s human rights violations under former President George W. Bush, with hopes that the documents will lead to the prosecution of public officials.