WWL>Topics>>2-26-14 3:10pm Angela: on corruption in the Catholic church

2-26-14 3:10pm Angela: on corruption in the Catholic church

Feb 26, 2014|

Angela talks with documentarian Jason Berry about his Frontline special "Secrets of the Vatican," chronicling money laundering, corruption, and sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic church.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Local investigative reporter and author Jason Berry has spent the last thirty odd years revealing issues within the Catholic Church. Beginning with pedophile priest. To today's Vatican banking practices. Last night's Frontline special secrets of the Vatican. Is a continuation of his work looking -- with pitched church still faces and we are lucky enough to have him with us today to talk about the secrets. I tell you I watched it I was spellbound. You can get it online go to Frontline dot com or org and you will find it. It is well worth the nine minutes and Jason he co produced it. It clearly is addressing the continuation. Of the -- file issue. That entire sex scandal. In the Catholic Church. But for those of us who weren't as acquainted with the banking the Vatican bank that was just oh my gosh oh my gosh. And then the hope of the new Pope. I think which is also very important. I think a lot of people will be surprised. At the well first of all the sexual activity within the Vatican. I know it'll -- it jarring to to see that and see people talk about an on screen but we tried to balance that with the the texture portrait of port Francis the apprentice and a fair minded. Reporting on on how and why Pope Benedict resigned so yes there there is a section on. The internal dynamics. Of the Roman Korea but it's one part of of large here -- -- narrative no absolutely. And I think again all of us were very surprised because it hasn't happened and what 700 years that a Pope resigns. So when Pope Benedict did and they said it was because he was then becoming fragile and tired. And you say OK I can understand that shocking as it is now there's an explanation of what demand was facing. Indeed in fact I just read a few minutes ago on line and a report where he is telling an Italian journalists. Andrea toward the values of print money actually. That he resigned for the reasons stated in his letters that he felt you know his health had gotten to the point. But. I think when you see the film and I mean the reality is he was being betrayed. By his own internal bureaucracy. And it was out of control and the people giving. Documents to the Butler. Who did not act alone there's no doubt that he was almost a strong horse for other people were stalking horse for the people. All all of that taken together I think you. Completes a portrait of what happened to him that at least on TV has not been shown for. It is interesting when you talk about their is an Italian journalists to. Got the source and now we know that it was that the pope's Butler. Who was giving him all kinds of information that sort of blow things out of the water. Right and that ultimately he was acknowledged and and -- you go to jail for awhile and then they pardoned him. He spent about two six weeks about not mistaken in a small cell. And within the Vatican city state and it's a hundred -- acre city state and it's not as big as some four terms in Louisiana or Mississippi. Although it's got the beautiful buildings and works or. And he was pardoned he now works in Bob being the a's -- witches the hospital in Rome. The widespread assumption among all the people who have covered this is that. He was for given with the understanding that he would never speak. To anyone about why he did what he did. And so he's you know he got a pass from your from your documentary. He was doing it sang he was doing it to protect the Pope. That's correct Angela I wanna make one small point that director and producer of the film is Antony Thomas and I assisted him as a co producer and an interview week. And I do wanna give on air full credit -- for the tremendous were that he did he's a distinguished. Filmmaker and based in London has a long record and I was quite privileged to work foreign. Oh yes the film makes -- clear that the Butler was calm. He he was. At least he was claiming that. The Pope did not have control over what was going on around him in the forces of people who've been. On the other hand. -- hit it the personality of this guy upon how little gravity LA is really kind of an enigma. Because on the one hand as we pointed out on the film he was leaking documents to Gian Luigi Nazis who some of very well known TV journalist in Italy. Documents that were in languages he himself did not read. So who are the people giving him these documents. Why are they giving it to him and I need the the back story to this. -- which. We simply did not have time to get into there was a power struggle going on with and the Korea between -- -- Tony who was the secretary of state. And cardinal said Donahoe who was the former secretary of state dean of the culture cardinals. And basically from the Saddam wasn't in office it's widely I think believed that. His people were locked in conflict with for -- no one knows who leaked but in the end. Part talent at the Pope would not make for Tony resign. And India and he resigned himself. It's an amazing political story. Nothing well I think I think that's the whole thing. And I am Torre even brought up that that the the sex issue is still so profound. I think I was a little shocked by that you know what this is much more historian and there's a great line in there. But this is the last -- absolute monarchy yes this is the Pope is the last. His is the bottom line I say if it happens and that's what was disturbing because he was saying something and his underlings were not doing it. Well that's true on the other hand on. Joseph Ratzinger before he became a Pope Benedict as a cardinal. Was a theologian. Who. -- in in intricacies and nuances. And he never really had the experience. Of of being a chief of states. Senator governor has never had the experience of being president once he or maybe when she gets elected. You know with the -- it's different you you have to know now. Two lead. With an iron hand and soft touch at the same time. And I think Benedict had the soft touch but he really didn't have the iron hand and -- way -- report. Let's hope that through you know what we're gonna take a break because someone a kind of break this down I hope people are listening because it is it is such an eye opener. And it is. It's happening today and I think that's what's you thinking oh my gosh reliving. Another chapter of history in the Catholic Church stay with this with Jason -- I'm Angela under the WL. Jason Berry author and investigative reporter -- is our guest today. On front line last night deny any minute documentary called secrets of the Vatican which she helped co produce and it really is an update in a sense of not that the whole sex scandal with the church also the banking scandal with the church. Believing of Pope Benedict and the real reasons he's laughed and then ultimately what our new Pope is facing. And and that is sort of the it ends on hold as far as that's concerned because he is so highly highly regarded. And but but let's go back to the continuation of the sex scandal. There were certain parts that were not from the past the hole Milwaukee issue was terrible but I think most shocking to the average -- Was -- the Italian reporter who had a hidden camera went to a party that was in a bar invited by different. And -- that the priest was giving the party. And half the room is filled with priest and if they bring in sex dancers senator senator at the bottom line. The in the reporter with a hidden camera goes home with his friend who's ringing the priest is throwing a party. They do what they do all night and then the next day you see video. Of this man putting on. His priest clothes and doing -- -- in the apartment. And it just. Said everything. Well you're right it. And as I said at the break it to you a moment ago. Even with -- everything I've reported over the years. I had eight years of a jesuit education and it made me squeamish watching it. Not so much the idea that. A priest and someone else would go on -- back room and have sex although it's obviously a violation of celibacy but. The idea that the guy would then come out and put on his vestments and celebrate mass. Almost as if closing one chapter opening and and another you know not even bothering with a bookmark -- This is part of the reality and I think the larger question of celibacy and whether a married clergy would rejuvenate the church. Keeps percolating win films like this are made to win. People come forward with. Valid information and you know it's part of the of the conversation that's going on within the church today and although it was a little bit shocking to watch I think it was there for good reason. But absolutely wise in -- in it needed to be seen and I think that there are several points made in the documentary. That's. Especially Pope Benedict to almost trying to address the issue of homosexuality. And for all the marvelous priests. Who live by the rules. And who happened to be day it was very painful correct. Right but it's more the issue of of celibacy and I thought it was interesting to point out that so many of the -- files. Had been chosen after high school they were young young man. Very idealistic yes I will give my life to god and I will give up the family because I have a -- has some wonderful interviews -- that. But the reality was. It didn't happen that way they continued. Or they. They became very sexual. Well you really have to draw a distinction between those who abuse children and should have been removed along time ago. And those were older and engaged and whatever kind of behavior worth. An age appropriate. Partner and that's not to say that that all priests to this -- or even the vast majority do we don't have data on that. What I think is important here and it's what you just touched on and that is. The idea of sell the seat as the best way to maintain the priesthood. Com. Celibacy. Is considered a gift of god. By the church but it's also law to universal law of the church and it's a law that can be changed. With -- stroke the papal pan. It's not dogma. And you know. There are some people who believe that if a married men and women were allowed one day to become ministers it would I guess -- with merry men since. Currently the position is no women but I think it would slowly begin to rejuvenate the church. Because there would be a a different approach to the dynamics of family life com. You know they're fascinating things that apprentices done this is not in the film but it's coming up in October there will be what is called race and and this is a large gathering in Rome. And the -- and -- had a question there throughout the world all the bishops asking them. Parish by parish to get the opinions. Of rank and file people in the pews. On line and are there gay people and your parish or their people who were not married have children. What is the status of these people and their families Stanley's and in the -- dissent. And you know the Saint Petersburg. Just released a statement saying that most people -- except the birth control prohibition. This gathering in October could end up being quite a milestone. If all of these people we're seeing reports from Germany people are finally. People -- church are giving their opinions about some of these moral teachings. And for the for for -- -- have opened that to war is really quite extraordinary. So there's going to be a conversation. And it's gonna get a lot of media attention. And when you think of his comment when asked on the airplane flying from Brazil to roam about the priest in the Vatican was in he said. Who reminded judge -- those words win out across the world and it suggests. Tolerance and I think I'm not the person who says dispersed but radical mercy is really the agenda -- papers. And -- that is made very clear that it just very interesting to me that again a surprise in a sense that the Pope would resign. And that this man. Who every one Catholic and non Catholic is looking at is oh my gosh she's bringing it back to what the origin of the church. I think a lot of it how was he chosen and how were we lucky to get. And the church at this time when many difficult issues are being faced. Criminal and otherwise. How were we lucky to get a guy like that. Well he almost won in 2005. He came in second and we're just before the conclave. A newspaper in Argentina released all these documents suggesting. That he had had some role in the dirty war that he you know had sold out a couple of priest it turned out not to be true. But when you have scandal news that lands in the lap of the Italian media ripe for conclave it's not good for you as a candidate. And so by the time of the conclave last march. No one who was there and I speak as one of the -- washed journalists who bought the party line. -- was predicting that it was a race between one of the talented to the Italians and and and an -- different bird cardinal from Brazil. And he got up and gave a very short powerful speech and within a day did vote that swung around him. I think he was on people's minds for a long time. Look this is a guy who has come. From a country that has gone through enormous convulsions. You know a fascist dictatorship 30000 people disappeared yes murdered in the seventies. And you know he spent a great deal of time in the -- In ministry to the poor. So his his view of the church. Is not shall we say shaped. By the rules of personal behavior you can't be gay you can't be divorced if you -- you know it communion or something like that. He's much -- someone who's dealing with the failures of society and I think that is one reason they elected him that. And I think because he's a chancellor and he understands power and he's using it very -- Very wisely and keeping. The conversation going and being out there and not keeping everybody's interest. And doing the things that we as media people now get captured on video when things and that he's people are embracing him. We don't think he says what are his servants dollars ago was too young married couples. And he said look things happen when you get married and sometimes people throw plates but the important thing is to go to bed happy. Well. Remarkable -- they intimate yeah. I throw the play but love each other you know when you turn at night not only that he also referenced mothers in law yes which I thought the. When does this happen. From the Pope from the Vatican stay with us everyone we're gonna continue our talk with Jason -- right after this let's go to the newsroom and day Colin. A documentary co produce. By our local author and investigative reporter Jason Berry called secrets of the Vatican it was on front line last night. Nine minutes you do not want to miss and you can still see it online just go to Frontline dot org and look it -- but one of -- Fascinating issues wise for the but it layman who knew nothing I knew nothing about the Vatican bank. And issues which are huge. And that now the new Pope is going to face. And he is already saying certain things he's called in a group of cardinals to look at it center. But I did not know women there in essence saying that it was a place where rich people could put their money. What was more than it was a it was like an offshore bank yes and privileged account holders -- the real story the American bank. Is the mid and low level account managers. And the funds that they were taking and wiring to the places. The thirty million dollars it was impounded in 2010. Was the first step by -- Rossi the prosecutor whom we profile in the film. And it let -- pounding of funds the Treasury Department in Washington and told JPMorgan Chase. This is not a bank Q do business with which I find rather -- given all the trouble of JPMorgan has got an incident that. In any event that. To his credit Pope Benedict then established the prize the oversight commission decided what is important thing is that under Paul Francis. They -- or international. Financial consulting firms that are now working hand in glove. With on the new director of the bank of German and harper has been brought and and -- I think the real question many people have is. How do you will be deep and how yes it will they deal with how people they Pixar is -- of their time gutter right. And then what what you do. With that information do you turn it over to the Italian authorities I mean there's a hole. Dramatic dance that's going on without any spotlight on it but. The good news is that I think he is slowly it appears that he slowly getting controls the bank. Well there's a wonderful scene where he used on one of the reporters who had been talking to on and he's so open with reporters of his on the airplane. And in essence that he sort of opened the door to we could shut this bank down if we have to. May not want to do that we wanna fix it but we can't fix it and that was sort of an astounding statement. Well it was. And I think one of the things he conveyed in that famous press conference -- nine minutes on the flight from Brazil back to Rome. Was. And adroit mind. An ability to move from one topic to another. Fluently. And I an eloquently and you know. His comments about the international banking system are absolutely extraordinary there is no president or prime minister on the global stage. Who is talking about a form of capitalism that is treating. Human beings on the bottom as if -- waste I mean he is making a moral statement now you know. Rush Limbaugh got all up in arms and basically accused him of being a Marxist. But the reality is I think anyone who is. Reasonably. Objective about what has happened in the international banking world realizes that that. It's it's a runaway a culture. He calls it a system of no ethics and world. That idolize is the god of money and that's that's big stuff. It's very -- and he's alienating. He's alienating some people well he has and part of what is going on with in the Catholic Church at least in the United States and I suspect this is happening in countries. Is that the you know the historic. Presence of the church. I have always likened to -- big tent and within that -- you have. Blue members and -- members if you will mirror on national electorate in this country but the genius of catholicism is that it is always. Being able to keep people together and they crossed the aisle to meet one another even though they don't vote the same way. There is a a very hardened. Sort of conservative like within the church today of people who. Give a great deal of money and apparently are not happy. The real question is whether they will blow listened to him and be more flexible in their own thinking because he's obviously changed his mind. You have spent as -- said thirty odd years. Doing some terrific reporting and writing and -- many books on fairy difficult and emotional subjects. And you are Catholic you wore a proud Catholic and an account educated educated. And every other Catholics are -- -- ago but. You have to it as you say it has to weigh on you it has to. As a Catholic and one who believes do you ever think. I'm so fed up looking at the bad part I'm just going to not be Catholic anymore and join another church. -- no. No. I I. I've had Titanic struggles. On internally if it's. Over the nature of the church but this thing I do wanna say. I have tried to bounce my life professionally between hard hitting investigative work with a lot of cultural. You know -- at an all bull comic novel last the -- a -- those one point -- Our poison on page two. Wish fulfillment there. 2006. And up from the cradle jazz music history did and then -- And I don't documentary work jazz funerals as well so I've I've tried. To keep a balanced like -- Right now anyway is it a certain. -- vindication but I think a lot of the work that I and others have done it's my creatures if you will. In a sense. On has reached a point where we hope. Who is tackling issues and I feel quite good about that and feel good about him but. There have been periods of Dartmouth and one and indeed wondered why I'm woods. Think if it's hard to go to mass let's just. Well no but I think I've heard from people effort from people who know me well that's not your brave the mean. Heard those early days talking about a sex scandal that everybody wanted to keep your head in the sand is a pretty big deal. And you were unrelenting. Outlaws. And I think probably a lot of it had to do with the fact that. I had just become apparent the first time when I'm broke the stories about overcoat and I just kept asking myself why. Com. Why do these mean these bishops not. If you find out someone has abused a child one to get him. And it took me quite along time. Seven years on that first book which came out in 92. Lead us not into temptation to sort of get the answers if you well. And but I never imagined that. I thought OK look I put this information after the book. I did well I got a lot of attention for and I figured OK now they'll do something about it they'll they'll change. And in fact they didn't but some of them. But you know cardinal. Of Los angeles' but probably the most. Striking case. So all of these lawsuits all this media coverage has reached a point I think where many Catholics understand that these are. Or fairly deep problems and -- either leave or you decide that you Wednesday and make it better -- -- Stay with this -- continue our talk with Jason Barry. Jason Berry has been our guest again co producer of last night's Nightline secrets of the Vatican. Again a continuation. Of looking at the issue of the sexual abuse. Within the church and interestingly that it's not. Particularly getting better how many priests have gone to jail. Well comparatively small number. In the context of those who have been at the center of civil lawsuits. -- -- and about 300 in this country. -- the 6200 who have been. Identified over the last forty for years I will say one thing though. Of many diocese have put in safe touch -- patient programs which are quite important the number of cases. Accused abusers with young people today as going down considerably. Many of the cases in litigation and involve abuses and victims. Who were traumatized many years ago. It is a legal battle that certainly needs to be resolved. But it it is not nearly as bad as it was say 25 years ago or thirty years ago first began reporting on that dimension. Well as that is that is very in important that's the good news I think gun and not taking it out of context to see the sort of free flowing sexuality within the Vatican was surprising. Well that was part of the film that entity the director felt had to be -- it and I agree with him. You know what we tried to do in this film. Was give people a sense of a three dimensional. Human beings. And their struggles either in writing about it or covering it or in being. In the middle and they'll -- the prosecutor. Or the young man who was not identified who was in shadows. Likewise Peter rise slowly in Milwaukee and mosques deals son -- -- -- national wrenching interview. Armed but you -- one of the things that Frontline doesn't by the way anyone who wants to see the film can simply logon to Frontline or previous. Dot org slash frontlines are just -- Frontline on Google and you got there all the films are posted. He you have time to really develop. A script the re search. On the work and and it's done with very high professional standards. Oh my gosh very high and I think that's what's so impressive it was almost. You didn't want it to end but I how it does and with. Our new Pope Pope Francis. Does give hope because he is addressing all of these issues. Both of with the banking with the sexuality etc. and you just get a sense that as someone said if you can have a long enough -- this. And perhaps some of these things can be resolved. I think so and you remember this is the largest organization. In the world. And internal. It's chaotic. People think that the Vatican controls this massive octopus some of faith and and phones and it's it's really quite different bishops functioned. Much as princes in their own. Terps are principality if you will may the record Goodman. Others you know have their failings and flaws and I think what we're seeing is a kind of reckoning. Between many people within the church to recognize that reform. Has to be driven forward. Thank you Jason Berry thank you for this hour and thank you for the work you've done my pleasure always will be right back. One thing Jason Berry again for being on our program. Again last night don't on Nightline the documentaries secrets of the Vatican. If there's one that you can watch by going online to front line or two pbs.org. Well worth your time beautifully put together and again ending on hope with the new Pope addressing these issues. We'll see you tomorrow.