Audacious is a word I don’t use often. But it leapt to mind this morning when I read that a child molesting cleric at a New York archdiocesan parish is being ousted from ministry.
“Audacious” is the best way I can describe Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter to the flock at Church of the Holy Name of Mary parish in Croton-on-Hudson.
Here’s how the dictionary defines “audacious” – “extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless” or “recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen.”
Both definitions fit Dolan’s actions in the troubling case of Deacon Al Mazza.
In a letter to parishioners, Dolan claims he suspended Mazza months ago. But we see
--no evidence that this was done,
--no evidence that anyone was notified, and
--Mazza’s name in the parish bulletin three times in the last month, and
--Mazza’s name on the parish website even now.
That’s pretty audacious, isn’t it? To claim you ousted a credibly accused child molester without giving any proof it? And in the face of proof that suggests he hasn’t been ousted at all?
Let’s assume that Dolan did, in fact, suspend Mazza months ago. A simple internet search shows that if this happened, it was done with little or no public notice. That’s pretty audacious too: to claim (as Dolan has, time and time again) to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes while suspending a credibly accused cleric very quietly.
Dolan’s letter to the parish omits several key facts, like :
--when exactly the police turned this investigation over to Dolan,
--where else Mazza might have worked for the church,
--where Mazza is right now,
--the name of the two priests at the parish who were child molesters (Fr. Kenneth Jesselli and Fr. Gennaro Gentile),
--the importance of speaking up - if you have information or suspicions – so that Mazza might be criminally charged and kept away from kids,
--the names and contact information of police and prosecutors who victims, witnesses or whistleblowers should call if they know or suspect something about this case.
That’s pretty audacious, isn’t it? To posture as a reformer while acting as though merely suspending a credibly accused cleric is enough. To claim to be “open” in clergy sex cases yet not mention the names of two other predators to parishioners where the two worked. To stay quiet for months about credible child sex abuse allegations against a cleric.
Finally, perhaps most audacious of all, Dolan brags in his letter. He claims that his archdiocese “acts promptly, definitively, firmly, and openly” in clergy sex cases.
Promptly? By waiting months before ousting a credibly accused child molesting cleric?
Openly? By suspending a credibly accused cleric months (if, indeed, he did) very quietly.
Firmly? By telling a credibly accused child molester “you can’t come to work” but saying nothing about the need for victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police about him?
How audacious is that? A child has been molested. A parish has been betrayed (for at least the third time). And Cardinal Dolan makes sure he devotes three sentences of a short letter to making self-serving and false claims about his own actions (while devoting zero sentences to preventing future child sex crimes – by Mazza or others – by contacting police or prosecutors.