I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a victim tell me that this is what her local Catholic officials have said about her report of child sexual assault.
(The latest such case involves Fr. Michael Keating of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. In 2006, a young victim disclosed to church officials that Fr. Keating molested her. Archdiocesan staff kept quiet, however, and deemed he report “unsubstantiated.” So they kept the predator on the job for nine more years. He’s stepped aside, now that he’s being sued.)
One big meeting of Catholic officials has ended. Another meeting takes place next month. And at both, a huge “the elephant in the room" was ignored.
Last week in Rome, the new “Council of Cardinals” met with Pope Francis for three days. According to papal spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi “the sex abuse issue did not come up during the G-8 meeting.”
I’m not talking about the outrageous Fr. Michael Fugee case in Newark. I’m talking about these recent cases, all of which have surfaced in less than one month:
-- Fr. Matthew Riedlinger, who was exposed Sunday as having sent 1,200 inappropriate sexual text messages to what he thought was a teenaged boy and had sexually harassed at least five teenagers and young men, some of whom were seminarians. (For months, Trenton Bishop David O'Connell has kept this hidden.)
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.”
A Detroit predator priest was recently ousted. Archbishop Allen Vigneron made a formal announcement. It implied this was the first allegation against the priest.
But it wasn’t.
Today, an Ohio jury found Fr. Robert Poandl guilty of molesting a boy years ago.
But in the most crucial sense, this brave victim and his family won long before today.
Last week, another child molesting nun was publicly exposed. She’s Sister Agnes Daniels, who worked at St. Mary School in Boston when she reportedly committed the abuse. (Thanks to attorney Mitchell Garabedian for disclosing the accusations.)
In July, two other abusive nuns were publicly exposed: Sister Agnes Santomassimo and Sister Mary Joseph. Both allegedly molested in California. (Santomassimo also worked in Chicago. Joseph also worked in Idaho, Arizona and Washington state.)
Smart, brave victims of Dubuque area predator priests have forced Catholic officials there – as part of lawsuit settlements - to post names of child molesting clerics on the archdiocesan website. We’re always thrilled when survivors use lawsuits to pry information from the church hierarchy and use that information to warn parents about pedophiles.
But there is helpful information that illuminates and less helpful information that obfuscates.
The Dubuque Archdiocese seems committed to less helpful information that obfuscates.
Tomorrow, a California legislative panel will vote on SB 131, a measure that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to expose child molesters in court.
Leading the charge against the measure: California’s Catholic bishops.
The highest ranking prelate in the state, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, claims that the bill
--“fails to protect all victims of childhood sexual abuse” (So if a bill doesn’t protect EVERYONE or fix EVERYTHING, it should be defeated?)
--“discriminates against Catholic schools” (Really? The bill doesn’t mention Catholic schools.)
--“discriminates against other private employers” (No, the bill focuses on private employers because that’s where history and common sense tell us abuse is more apt to be covered up. That’s not “discrimination,” that’s smart public policy.)
--“puts the Church’s social services and educational mission at risk” (Really? That’s what virtually every bishop says every time anyone proposes reforming the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statute of limitations.)
After of our annual conference (which was, by the way, a smashing success), I came home to a short stack of unread New York Times. Two stories in last Saturday's edition struck me.
One featured this headline: "France Orders Strauss-Kahn to Stand Trial." The one-time potential presidential candidate faces "charges linked to his involvement in a prostitution ring prosecutors say was operating in France and in the United States." Along with "a small group of French businessmen and police officials," Strauss-Kahn stands accused of pimping, or “aggravated procurement in a group,” a charge that "carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million euros," about $2 million.