Extract from talk given by Cardinal Marx in the Vatican on Saturday


“In the Church there is need for a good and fully-functioning administration, which must be oriented towards the goal of the Church, and based on the principle of justice.

If administration forgets its function …. and is only occupied with itself; if rules and regulations are only used to sustain the administration itself or the power of persons, this is abuse of power by the administration. On the one hand administration is required to fulfil the mission of the Church, and on the other hand, it can directly oppose this mission.

Administration should take place in such a way that people feel accepted in administrative procedures, that they can trust the system, that they feel secure and fairly treated, that they are listened to and their legitimate criticisms accepted.

For this to happen there needs to be transparency and traceability of administrative procedures. Administrative procedures become transparent, if it is understandable and traceable who has done what, when, why and what for, and what has been decided, rejected or assigned. Thus, people who experience transparent administration can uncover errors and mistakes in the administrative actions, and defend themselves against such actions. They can share their perspective in a binding way, and have it taken into account. The people encountering the administration are not faced with anonymous, incomprehensible power structures, but can exercise self-determined control over administrative procedures. They are not mere objects of administration, but can perceive themselves instead as subjects.

There are no alternatives to traceability and transparency. A transparent, clearly regulated and defined procedure ensures that the correct steps must be taken, before those who should pass judgment actually do so. This is the best safely mechanism against prejudices or false judgments. A clearly defined and public procedure establishes a degree of credibility, which enables restoring the reputation of a wrongly-accused person, who would otherwise be subjected to rumours, if the investigation is not appropriate, transparent or conclusive.

Establishing transparent procedural norms and rules for ecclesiastical processes is essential. The Church must not operate below the quality standards of public administration of justice, if it doesn’t want to face criticism that it has an inferior legal system, which is harmful to people.

Proper legal proceedings serve to establish the truth, and form the basis for imposing a punishment which is appropriate for the relevant offence. People in the Church need to see how the judge comes to the sentence, and what is the sentence, but nearly all of this is secret. I think that situation is not good.”

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Above are extracts from the talk given by Cardinal Marx, President of the German Bishops Conference, to the meeting on clerical abuse in the Vatican. What he says about proper procedures is very telling, and I only wish that the type of procedures he outlines were in place in 2012 when I had my dealings with the Church administration. He highlights what was unjust and unfair in what I had to deal with.

Since I have discovered recently that my withdrawal from ministry seven years ago was actually the action of the Redemptorists, – (OK -under orders from the CDF) – I am no longer feeling at home in the congregation where I have spent the large part of my life. Knowing that my superiors failed then, and continue to do so today, to stand up to the corrupt procedures so well described in Cardinal Marx talk, is disappointing, even disillusioning. Strange that the whole thing seems to be effecting me more deeply now than when it happened;  is that a sign of old age?  Maybe.