I am delighted to announce the publication of new academic book called ‘After Leveson? The Future for British Journalism’. I contributed a chapter on the possible ‘Chilling Effect’ of the Leveson Report on investigative journalism in the UK. My analysis took into account research I’ve carried out on the complex and unpredictable aftermath of the Watergate scandal in the 1974-2000 timeframe in the USA. I connected this to the thought-provoking ‘Cultural Chaos’ theory introduced in his book of the same name by my former Univ of Strathclyde colleague Prof. Brian McNair now on the faculty of Queensland University of Technology. I found much to commend in his analysis and believe his progressive conclusions tie-in with my examination of what happened after the so-called high-point of the genre in the USA. It’s available here: ‘After Leveson? The Future for British Journalism’.
Readers of my posts on this site will know I have written extensively of the child abuse scandal which has engulfed the RC church globally. Several of the articles in the past have mentioned the important contributions made by former New Orleans-based lawyer Ray Mouton, now a bestselling critically-acclaimed author, since he represented the first RC priest accused of child abuse in the 1980s. He was one of the co-authors of the notorious ‘Manual’ – a 100-page document – drafted in May/June 1985 warning the church about the scale of abuse and strongly advising it to change all its policies regarding the issue. They were ignored and the document was shelved.
Ray Mouton has written a fictional story about this matter in the unforgettable novel ‘in God’s House’ review elsewhere on my site. In the wake of the Papal resignation today he has just issued the following statement:
Statement of author Ray Mouton re:
Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
This resignation could not have come soon enough and it should be followed by the resignations of most of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church – Cardinals in Rome and around the world, and Archbishops, Bishops, Vicars and Chancery officials who have covered up sex crimes against children by priests, nuns and religious, for there are few, if any, in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who have not been either complicit in the cover up of felony crimes of priests or had guilty knowledge that such crimes were being covered up.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger has been at the center of the cover up of the current clergy abuse crisis and scandal since 1981 when he was appointed Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that is an office that is the successor to what was previously called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and prior to that was called Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.
This office has always had all authority and responsibility for what are defined under Church law, canon law, as “moral delicts” of clergy – what the Church calls sins and the secular world calls crimes. The present Pope held this Vatican office for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a period of time that spans from the first public prosecution of a priest in the U. S. in 1984 to 19 April 2005 when he ascended to the papacy and assumed the name Pope Benedict XVI. The current clergy abuse crisis and scandal happened on this man’s watch.
While Ratzinger was still a Cardinal in charge of clergy abuse matters, Cardinal Bernard Francis Law of Boston resigned in disgrace on December 13, 2002. At that time the present Pope was the person making all decisions relating to clergy abuse matters. The decision was taken to promote, elevate and exalt the disgraced Cardinal Law by naming him Archpriest of Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore, the largest church in Rome dedicated to Mary, a basilica painted in gold leaf that claims part of Christ’s crib as its relic, and has a villa as the residence of the Archpriest. Cardinal Law was also appointed to all important Vatican commissions, including the one that selects Bishops, and Cardinal Law had the privilege of celebrating mass on the altar of St. Peter’s on one of the official 9 days of mourning following the death of Pope John Paul II.
Ratzinger was Pope when Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles authorized a 660 million dollar settlement of civil claims in July 2007, a sum that represents the wholesale rape of girls and boys over decades. Pope Benedict XVI did not act to replace Cardinal Mahony nor was Mahony reprimanded, but rather he was allowed to serve as Archbishop of the largest diocese in the U. S. until he reached retirement age four years later in 2011. In fact, Mahony was not removed from public life until January 31, 2013.
One need look no farther than the action and/or inaction that Joseph Ratzinger took in regard to disgraced Cardinals Law and Mahony when Ratzinger was a Cardinal and Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and later when he was Supreme Pontiff to clearly understand Ratzinger’s attitude of placing paramount emphasis on protecting prelates in the hierarchy of the Church with total disregard for the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.
Clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church did not begin during Ratzinger’s tenure in Rome for documents prove it was widespread as far back as 306 AD.
The clergy abuse crisis and scandal will not end with Ratzinger’s resignation as welcome as his resignation is among the faithful and the public.
Until all documents relating to clergy abuse through the past years, decades and centuries are released by the Church in every diocese in the world and the Vatican - all bishops who have covered up crimes of priests must be mandated to follow Ratzinger’s example in resigning their positions, there will be no path for the Church to follow to begin to recover from their fall from grace in sacrificing innocent children to protect the reputation of the Church, its priests and bishops, and the moral authority, credibility and trust the institution once had will continue to erode.
The problem of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church is an “institutional problem” and until the Church addresses it as an institutional problem and all men who serve in the hierarchy of the institution who have covered up crimes resign as Ratzinger has done, the Church cannot heal itself nor provide any meaningful atonement to hundreds of thousands of children who had innocence, God’s greatest gift, ripped from their hearts.
In God’s House, the novel I worked on for 12 years is a book about truth, not facts, and it tells the whole truth of the entire saga of the current clergy abuse crisis and scandal that began in the deep south of the United States in 1984 and continues to devastate every Catholic diocese in the world today.
For 29 years I’ve monitored developments in this crisis, a scandal that goes to the very foundation of the faith for none of the actions of the hierarchy of the Church have conformed to the teachings and example of Christ’s life from which the Church claims its moral authority.
In the beginning in 1984 there were isolated fires of scandal that burned on the horizon out of view of most people.Then the fires of the crisis began to spread and finally covered the Catholic world as the crisis and scandal devastated the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and severely impacted every Catholic diocese on earth.
Finally the flames of the fire are scarring the walls of the Vatican. It’s a fire that cannot be extinguished by one guilty man’s resignation. The Church has always viewed truth as its enemy. Until the institution embraces the truth, does what it mandates of the its faithful – fully confesses all of its sins by releasing all documents relating to sex abuse and accepts the resignations of all who have ever covered up crimes, and the Church accepts the severe penance the courts and public will mete out – only then will the Church be in a true state of grace and be able to begin to rebuild the ruin it created when members of the hierarchy charted a disastrous course for the Church by making fateful, faithless decisions that placed the Church, criminals, and men who empower and enable criminals above the welfare of children.
If he were thrown into the sea with a millstone tied to his neck, he would be far better off than facing the punishment in store for those who harm these little children’s souls.
Ray Mouton/February 11, 2013/France
Scotland Tonight, the most-watched current affairs programme produced by my former employers from two decades ago, STV, invited me to discuss the controversial Pat Finucane case. I explained during the on-air interview my thoughts about the newly-published review carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva into the murder of the Belfast-based lawyer in February 1989 and its findings of top-to-bottom collusion between the British security forces and Loyalist terrorists during the ‘Dirty War’ in Northern Ireland during the 19060-90s timeframe.
It’s a story I have reported on and kept a close watch on for some time now and I explained how the report’s conclusion, although not unexpected and not complete either, still made shocking reading. In my view this case and this is a subject that will run and run for the foreseeable future.
Reading ‘In God’s House’ the début novel by Ray Mouton, was an intense and suspenseful experience. The prose was fresh and crisp and displayed a Hemingway-esque control and awareness of plot, character and narrative arc from beginning to end. As the story unfolded, I felt myself gripped and eventually shocked by the events, characters and emotions which were introduced to me throughout this deceptively-human but ultimately-epic story. I have reviewed many novels in the last 20+ years as a professional journalist but none hit me as hard as this.
I repeatedly found myself thinking of the masterful work by Mario Puzo, ‘The Godfather’ as I turned page after page of Mouton’s astonishing book. When I read Puzo’s seminal work, whilst being well aware La Cosa Nostra existed I wasn’t prepared for the journey it took me on nor for the education about its players, dramas and underlying themes. It wasn’t a book about the ‘Mafia’ it was a book about the violence men do, an Italian-immigrant family, cultural-loyalties, economic-survival, institutional-corruption and – above all – the roots of an American family.
Mouton’s novel touches deep emotions in similar, if not better, ways. This is not a story about ‘child-abuse.’ This is a wonderful and thought-provoking story of: ambition; professional-judgment; ethics-in-the-workplace; duty-to-family, community, profession and oneself; courage-of-all-forms; and the challenge of religious faith in the modern age.
Yes, Mouton tackles head-on a subject that’s in global headlines but he singularly enlightens the unsuspecting-reader about its street-level legal complexities, multi-layered realities and, ultimately, its appalling consequences.
Like Puzo’s masterpiece, it presents dreadful characters, shocking scenes and unforgettable outcomes. It simply stays with you after you’ve turned the final page.
But above all this is a novel in the purest literary sense: it takes the reader along a path that seems familiar but is revealed to be alien; it unveils truths in the midst of a sea of lies; and it paints a portrait of a lawyer who might not be the person he wanted to be, but is certainly a timeless, sympathetic and wholly human hero for our times for the rest us. In that sense there is an unmistakable – but updated to a modern setting and with possibly more raw intensity – similarity to Harper Lee’s classic hero Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
This novel succeeds in winning the reader’s trust by creating characters who accompany us on a journey into dark places and as a legal thriller effortlessly ranks on a par with the best his fellow Southern writer John Grisham has to offer (and I am thinking of Grisham’s best work – and his and my own personal favorite – ‘A Time to Kill’ which tackled the equally unsettling issue of racism in the South and also had a flawed but courageous hero in lawyer Jake Brigance. Yes, Mouton’s book is that good).
There have been many journalistic articles, many network documentaries and many newspaper commentaries across the globe written about the crisis within the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. Only one book has been written by the ultimate insider, and this book is by Ray Mouton.
Mouton’s novel takes you beyond the other places because it takes you into the very soul of the damaged Church of Peter. I doubt if any other work of fiction could address such a catastrophic event in such a powerful, accessible, authoritative and shockingly entertaining way. But – and this is important to impart – it triumphs because it left this reader with a feeling of hope that one good man can indeed, face evil down and against all the odds of hell, actually make a difference. That in itself is a testimony to what this author and this story has managed to achieve.
I am deeply honoured and proud to have been invited by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, to join the brand new JUSTICE Scotland Council which launches in the heart of the capital’s legal community tonight. JUSTICE has been based in London for decades and has a formidable and well-deserved reputation for advising and becoming involve din matters of law connected with social justice. It’s a non-party affiliated charity which has an important role to play in the fast-changing legal landscape of Scotland. Tonight’s launch is by Lord Hope of Craighead, Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court and a fellow University of Strathclyde man. It’s a privilege to serve alongside him and other colleagues from the law, academia and other areas of Scottish life on this
Roberto Calvi was found hanging under Blackfriar’s Bridge in central London 30 years ago. I managed to track down his son, Carlo, some years ago, and persuade him to return with me to the very spot where his father was found dead on the morning of June 18th 1982. All the forensic evidence I examined, the experts I spoke to, and the sources who went on the record – and those who wouldn’t – all agreed that Roberto Calvi aka ‘God’s Banker’ – had been murdered. He was found with bricks in his pockets, hanging from a rope and wearing a watch which indicated when he’d finally been immersed in the rising tidal waters of the Thames. He knew too many secrets about the Mafia and its dealing with the Vatican Bank. He was tormented in his last days alive and fell into the hands of murderers who took advantage of his fear. Various judicial moves have taken place in Italy in intervening years to get to the bottom of this mystery but none has ever really held the guilty men accountable. The whole mess has taken a dreadful toll on hsi son Carlo, a really nice but also tenacious man and someone who has tried very hard to uncover the truth and put those responsible behind bars. This is a story which I continue to investigate to this day and gather facts about whenever I can. It’s been slow progress and has taken many hours poring over documents and statements. This is the original article I wrote and, to mark the anniversary of the death, I hope it gives you an insight into the labyrinth world Roberto Calvi inhabited. Especially, since – if the recent news from the Vatican recently is anything to go by – the same pattern is being played out all over again… Click this link.
I’ve been doing a lot of academic-related research in recent months. Three new books have chapters authored by me reflecting different areas of my research interests:
The first is a timely look at investigative journalism in the UK in the last 12 months, including a chapter by me researching the state and development of teaching investigative journalism in the UK higher education institutes. ‘Investigative Journalism: Dead or Alive?’ is available here.
The second is an examination of the life and work of photographer Tim Hetherington who was killed working in Libya last year. He co-directed the brilliant ‘Restrepo’ documentary about US soldiers in Afghanistan with well-known author/director Sebastian Junger who gave me an exclusive interview about his colleague. I believe that this chapter is the first serious academic assessment of Hetherington’s astonishing, visionary output: ‘Mirage in the Desert: Reporting the Arab Spring’ is available here.
The third book, which is not out yet, is called ‘The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial?’ and will be available in February. I have a chapter in it which uses my own professional output as raw data for testing my thesis which argues that robust and engaging investigative journalism can be carried out and have powerful impacts, within current legal and ethical frameworks and examines the notion that ultimately investigative journalists should regard themselves as being, what has been termed, ‘custodians of conscience.’ This chapter was based on research I did for a paper I delivered in London in October 2011 at the annual International Communication Ethics conference.
This is a new article I did for The Guardian on the Scottish Fingerprint Inquiry which reported yesterday. It’s a landmark report which essentially recategorises fingerprint evidence as ‘opinion rather than fact’ – a massive shift. The whole inquiry was kick-started because of the wrongful accusations made against former policewoman Shirley McKie. She gave her last press interview to me for The Guardian in 2006. Link here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/14/fingerprint-evidence-opinion-fact
This is the weird story of Scottish man Gary McKinnon who hacked into the Pentagon in his search for ETs. He had gone to ground in London when I finally managed to get him to agree to speak to me. It had taken weeks of phone calls from me in the USA (where I was on an assignment at the time) to organise the interview. When I flew back from the States I was grumpy and tired and not in the mood for crazy stories of ETs, secret technology and Gary’s tales of 3 am, stoned-on-cannabis hacking adventures. But when met in a nice bar in Camden, I liked him immediately and settled down for an interview. Little by little, I started thinking I was in the presence of a really, really paranoid guy. By the end of the interview, he had me half-convinced that the few customers in the bar were spying on him. I told him that it was unlikely and few really cared or felt threatened by his bizarre actions. I now admit I was 100% wrong.
Let’s just say that even after the Prime Minister (then Gordon Brown) spoke to the US secretly about the case, the USA were still intent on extraditing him. I thought it was ludicrous and, to be honest, I now think that – seriously – a couple of people in the bar that day were in fact keeping him and me under surveillance.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a great believer in the ‘Cock-Up’ rather than ‘Conspiracy’ view on life… but sometimes I really do need to keep my mind a bit more open to the realities that I encounter…. even when I am jet-lagged, sweating on a hot summer’s day and not looking forward to a connecting Easy Jet flight back to Edinburgh.
Link to PDF of article here: GOLIATH