Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fr. Haley gets the shaft, Cardinal Law gets the brass ring.

I have a lot of questions about the way justice is done in the Church - especially justice concerning the sex abuse of children. The viciousness of the attacks (See Leon Podles book Sacrilege) and the cover-ups are still fresh in my mind. Perhaps it's being a mother. How can a mom ever forget the anal rape and soul-killing manipulation and betrayal of children by trusted priests.

But the main reason this issue isn't going away anytime soon is because of the cover-ups. That problem has been swept under the rug and it sits there stinking. The abusers eventually were exposed thanks to the anti-Catholic Boston Globe, no thanks to the bishops charged with protecting the children. No, they were more interested in protecting the homosexual brotherhood, which explains their reaction of outrage -- not at the abuse but about its exposure. It was a secret, you see, a dirty little secret that they didn't want revealed. If there was an award for biggest hypocrite of all, I think a major contender would have to be Cardinal Bernard Law.

I have a lot of questions about Cardinal Law. Why isn't he in jail for obstruction of justice and accessory to sexual abuse? Why was he allowed to flee Boston ahead of the cops to be rewarded with an apartment in the Vatican and being named archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome with a stipend that allows him a comfortable, if not luxurious, life? Why was he given the honor of presiding over one of the papal funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II? Why do clergy at the top levels of the Church continue to draw the veil on the scandal of homosexuals in the clergy? Why won't the pope even talk about homosexual clergy when he doesn't mind discussing the impact of homosexuality on the culture? Why did Fr. Haley get the shaft while Cardinal Law got the brass ring?

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Phil Lawler who worked with Law in Boston was quoted in a 2006 Boston Magazine article: "'It seems to me unfortunate that [Cardinal Law] is where he is,' says Philip F. Lawler, editor of the Lancaster-based Catholic World News, who worked for Law as editor of the archdiocesan newspaper in the late 1980s. 'We’re still waiting for the evidence that he understands what happened in Boston. And if he doesn’t understand what caused his resignation, that raises questions for me about his perceptions of other problems, his ability to recognize what’s good for the Church.'"

More recently, Huffington Post commentator Caryl Rivers made some cogent points in her column The President and the Felon. While I disagree with her comments about the Notre Dame situation (Two wrongs never make a right.), we are kindred spirits when it comes to our concerns over Cardinal Law.

Here's a portion of Rivers' article:

And what did Bernie Law do exactly? As Dahlia Lithwick noted in Slate,
"We have a clearer picture of what precisely the Cardinal has done, or not done, over the past decade and a half. What's emerged is horrifying. Law was not only aware of egregious sexual misconduct among his subordinates but was apparently engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident after incident of child rape. Worse yet, he breezily reassigned clergy known for sexually abusing children to work with more children--conduct not all that distinguishable from leaving a loaded gun in a playground."

In the 1990s, my Boston University colleague Joe Bergantino, then with the investigative unit of WBZ television in Boston, broke the story of father James Porter, the priest who started abusing scores of children in a Fall River parish on the 60s. Porter just kept getting passed along to new parishes, where his molestations continued. As the story grew to other media, Bernie Law declaimed in 1993: "By all means, we call down God's wrath on the media."

God's wrath would surely have been directed elsewhere. Law was finally forced to resign after the Boston Globe Spotlight team revealed the vast scope of the pedophilia scandal in the church.

My own interest in the story was not simply academic. My brother Hugh was murdered--that's the only word I can use-- by a pedophile in a Catholic school run by the Christian Brothers. The abuse was not only physical, but also emotional. A psychiatrist who treated my brother told my mother, "I have never seen so much ego damage as was done to your son in that Catholic school." After many years of struggling with depression, my brother hanged himself. He walked into his Catholic school a bright, engaging, decent young man, and the school destroyed him.

Until the Vatican can look into its own dark heart, until it can stop rewarding the evil men it protected and enabled, who will listen to its moral pronouncements?

Certainly not me. And certainly not millions of others.

The way the bishops, especially in the United States, handled clergy sex abuse has seriously undermined the Church's authority and continues to do so. Remember, the bishops established policies that exempted their own egregious behavior of cover-up. And those who hid and enabled on-going abuse continue to hold positions of authority. That is scandalous!

The smoke of Satan has, indeed, entered the Church choking off and obscuring the truth. Homosexuality in the clergy is the elephant in the sanctuary that no one is allowed to talk about. And heaven help those who do as Fr. Haley learned. He has suffered the penalty for asking forbidden questions and exposing the ugly secret. He got the shaft, while a man who enabled the soul-killing abuse of dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent children escaped justice.

Pray for Cardinal Law. It would be better for both him and the Church if he were out of the limelight doing penance in a monastery. When I read comments about how vindictive people are for wanting to see justice done, I shake my head. Young people are dead because of bishops who cared more about the victimizers than victims. That should bother people more than the loss of prestige of men in mitres.

Our Man in Rome by Francis X. Rocca

The President and the Felon by Caryl Rivers

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