Sexual Abuse Scandal In The Catholic Church (ccr)

Originally published:  March 26, 2010, reviewed today after minor editing.

Let’s suppose that a United Sates Congressman stands accused of sexually molesting a young male page serving that government body.   Does saving the face of the institution take precedence over confronting the abuse?  Do the leaders of the Congress stage a cover-up giving priority to saving the government from the scandal?   

When a school teacher or principal stands accused of sexually molesting a child, do other teachers and administrators rally round the accused, protecting her/him from justice?   Does the school system close ranks and move the teacher to another building where the opportunity is fresh and easy? 

The Catholic Church of the  United States, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland are awash in scandal.  The sin of child abuse is grotesquely  compounded by the sin of cover-up, of protecting the ordained men who harmed the lives of thousands of children.    These ordained men were given the power to absolve the sins of penitents.  These ordained men were given the prestige and honor of a sacred position.

Are we not sickened?  Does not system-wide obscenity, tacitly condoning child molestation, sicken us enough to break through the silence?  Where are we?

The last weeks have shown anger and threats over health care.  Demonstrations pro and con are constant.  Threats of bodily harm come to Congressmen on both sides of the aisle.   This piece of legislation is extremely important and the activism is justified, a reaction to vital issues.

The March 24 issue of the Kansas City Star newspaper has the following front page priority stories:   the closing of a coffee plant, a college coach’s photo and story,  a population decline story, and a Steve Kraske story on threat made to Congressmen over the health care vote.

Page A 18 of the same issue carries a story from Munich about the abuse scandal cover-up.

In the diocese where I live and worship, the current policy is to investigate every allegation of abuse, even if the accused died years ago.  Some monies were reportedly paid and counseling services provided.  My experience tells me that every abused life is scarred with deep and horrible pain.  It also tells me that the ways of blaming the victim, though often subtle, are alive and well.  Families are wedged apart by dealing with abuse.

If the allegations of cover-up by the current Pope are accurate, then what?  What of the blind loyalty to church where child abuse scandals have bankrupted diocese, closed parishes and  destroyed lives?

In the words of Jesus, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”


And The Beat Goes On (CCR)

Monday, February 28, 2011, The Kansas City Star

“Catholic College Fires Gay Professor

Philadelphia Chestnut Hill College, a private Catholic College in Philadelphia, says it fired a part-time professor after learning from a post on his blog that he has been in a same-sex relationship for a decade and a half, which officials called contrary to church teaching.”

Ireland to Belgium to the United States, and probably to almost every place in which the Catholic Church is found, cases of abuse, physical and sexual, continue to implode those teaching of the church.  High ranking church members such as Bernard Law are not fired, but simply relocated.  Organized and sanctioned cover-ups attempted to hide the horrors of this obscenity.

A part-time professor in a stable homosexual (decade and a half) relationship is fired because the teachings of the church have a problem with same-sex couples.  So now the church will purge the ranks of any homosexual clergyman, right?  Gay priests will be fired and defrocked for flaunting the teaching of the church, right?  A wholesale firing is about to take place, removing all priests who have abused young boys or who have engaged in relationships with one another under cover of clergy, right?

The alternative is admission that the Catholic Church holds the clergy above, and exempt, from its own teachings.


In House (CCR)

Let’s go back to Richard Nixon and Watergate, a scandal of politics and government gone terribly wrong, a disgraced President of the United States and jail time for men privy to the Oval Office.

Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Daniel Inoye, Bob Woodward and others contributed to the investigation with professional thoroughness and personal dignity.  They, and others, worked to find the truth.

Suppose the investigation had been handled by in-house personnel like  H.R. Haldeman , Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, G. Gordon Liddy or John Dean.     Suppose that the results of the investigation were left to this in-house team.    It is fair to speculate that Richard M. Nixon would not have resigned, that zero jail time would be served by anyone and the tapes would be dismissed as unimportant.

Recent mine disaster offer another opportunity to speculate on the differing results from differing investigations.   The government agency charged with overseeing mine safety finds evidence not offered up by the mining companies.  Lawyers representing the miners and/or families of miners killed in explosions would never be convinced that mining company ‘in-house’ investigations were complete.

BP’s equipment failures and the subsequent oil spill had huge consequences to the environment.  BP, and those subcontracted on the rig, offered varying explanations as they worked to plug the leak.  Neither the countries nor the people affected were foolish enough to believe that an ‘in-house’ investigation would find all the facts.

On Wednesday, January 19, The Kansas City Star carried an Associated Press story out of Dublin, Ireland.  Author credit is given to Shawn Pogatchnik.  Pogatchnik writes of a 1997 Vatican letter to Irish bishops warning the bishops not to report all suspected child abuse cases to the police.  Victims of abuse by priests see the letter as powerful proof that the church supported worldwide cover-up of pedophile priests.

The article  says, “…letter undermines persistent Vatican claims that it never instructed bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police.’  Pogatchnik claims that the letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, emphasized the church’s “…right to handle all allegations and punishments in-house“.  (Bold face emphasis is mine.)

Today, January 20, the Star  has a response from the Vatican insisting that the “…letter warning Irish bishops against reporting priests suspected of sexual abuse to police has been deeply misunderstood.”

Today’s article references the reaction of victims groups who call the letter a ‘smoking gun’.  The group believes that “..the church enforced a worldwide culture of concealing crimes by pedophile priests of which Rome bears ultimate–and legal–responsibility.

As defense, Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer stated that the ‘deeply misunderstood’ letter in no way instructed bishops to disregard civil requirements.  Rather, said  Vatican Spokesman,  Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican intended to ensure that pedophiles would not have any technical grounds for appeal.


IF…If the intention was to protect against technical grounds for appeal, why was the 1997 letter not publicized before now?  Why was the language of the 1997 letter not clear and precise?  Why is there any question as to the meaning and intent of the instruction given to the bishops by the Vatican?  Why  was that clarification not forthcoming during Ireland’s first wave of lawsuits against priests?

This feels like one more damning piece of  the cover-up creating a vestment of ugliness and deception.   Isn’t it time for the voice of the people of the church to cry out for an end to the cover-up, exposing the crimes and the deceptions?  I read the Jesus Philosophy as a cry for justice.

Stone Walled (ccr)

Good Morning, Gentle Reader,

It has been a while.

Thoughts of writers-block creep in but it isn’t really a block.  It is a steel walled overload and the steel labors with the weight of national, world, church news and personal events.

On Friday, my oldest grandchild graduated from high school.  He is a wonderful young man of promise, convinced that 18 is the age of total independence.  It will take time for him to realize that inter-dependence  is the better way.

We drove 10 hours, crossing Kansas to reach the mountains and  be with family for the weekend events, giving me time to fill a notebook with blog ideas.  Our return drive filled more pages but these new thoughts turned out to be so very personal–mother/grandmother thoughts of how much I love, respect and admire my Colorado family.

Maybe it is a universal truth that my generation worries about the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.  Maybe we lack a balance and see the heaviness of world events overshadowing the promises of the goodness of  fresh ideas and enthusiasm spotlighted in graduation ceremonies.

No doubt the next few days will be my opportunity to sort, write and resort some of what I see as the heaviness of crisis.

Like the oil spill.   Gushing disaster fills the waters with death in many forms  and no clear hope of containment.  And the spin mindset that greedily seizes the opportunity to  blame President Obama for this horror.  Please take me on that mind journey that concludes with Barack Obama creating this mess or failing to respond.

Like violence on the high seas, attacking, killing and seizing ships and cargo.

Like Israel and Palestine and decades of animosity and conflict.

Like unemployment and foreclosures shattering lives.

Like Pope Benedict XV appointing nine prelates to investigate child abuse in Ireland’s Catholic Institutions.  Again, the church is investigating the church.

OK.  My leaps of connections probably are the cow and moon thing, but the parts do make the whole.  How did we move so far from the awareness that consequences reach  far beyond the moment, that personal actions have public ramifications, that responsibility does not have an off switch?