Four sources indicate that Cardinal Bernard Law is the official Vatican representative at a large Catholic celebration in Syracuse on Sicily. If this is true, we are very upset.
Nine years to the day of his resignation as head of the Boston Archdiocese, Pope Benedict, like his predecessor, keeps hurting thousands and thousands of deeply wounded child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics by honoring disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law.
This tragedy brings to mind the famous exchange between the U.S. Army's Joseph Nye Welch and notorious demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy and raises a question we must ask Pope Benedict. Exasperated by the senator's continuing cruelty, Welch asked McCarthy "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
There are thousands and thousands of high ranking Catholic officials Pope Benedict could have tapped for this honor. But he, or his top advisors, deliberately picked a prelate who they know ignored, concealed and enabled dozens and dozens of child molesting clerics to sexually assault thousands of kids. (Reminder: the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office revealed that 250 priests and church workers in the Boston area stood accused of sexual assault of minors in a scandal “so massive and prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable.”.
This is no aberration. Vatican officials have made similarly hurtful choices time and time again. Earlier this year, for instance, they tapped embattled Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali for a similar honor. They also promoted a Philadelphia bishop, Joseph Cistone, to head his own diocese in Michigan despite his having been criticized in a grand jury report for mishandling clergy sex cases.
This is one of the many reasons we’ve filed a formal complaint against the Pope and other Vatican officials at the International Criminal Court – because the ancient, rigid, secretive Catholic hierarchy continues to tolerate and enable the rape of children and the covering up of those crimes by essentially rewarding wrongdoers.
A few will claim we’re “vengeful” for bringing this up. But for us, this is about prevention, not punishment. How wrongdoers are treated affects whether wrongdoing will continue. If you reward those who endanger kids, others will endanger kids. If you discipline or defrock or demote corrupt church officials, other church officials may reform.
And it’s about helping victims speak up. Victims step forward and expose predators and protect kids when they feel they can make a difference. But every time Pope Benedict or his top aides praise or promote a wrongdoer, victims feel helpless, stay silent, and predators remain free to inflict more devastating sexual violence on innocent kids.
Many will be outraged by this latest callousness from the Vatican. So what? Outrage is meaningless unless it prompts action. Again, we beg caring Catholics – clerics and lay people – to respond to this outrage by taking tangible steps to help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. Otherwise, the callous and corrupt prevail again and the innocent and vulnerable suffer again.