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No Faith in Church's System

by Ed Lowe - Newsday
February 13, 2004

The Long Island Catholic newspaper arrived in the mail at my mother's house yesterday morning, so I tried to read it, although, previously, I had been warned by an old friend - a cleric, by the way, though not a monsignor - that reading The Long Island Catholic could bore a person to death.

A one-column feature on the right-hand side of the front page titled "This Week" began with the following sentence: "The best way for the Catholic Church to deal with clerical sex abuse is to ensure that its priests understand and embrace the chaste lifestyle the Church requires of them, Pope John Paul II said." Oh. I see. The best way to do good and avoid evil is to do good and avoid evil.

It went on like that, at first, literally trying to bore me to death, then, trying to infuriate me to death.

"The Pope," it read, "called on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to work with other Vatican offices to ensure seminary and post-ordination programs are effective in guaranteeing that those who minister in the Church's name will not sexually abuse anyone." Bold, hands-on leadership, I'd say.

"The members of the doctrinal congregation, which bears ultimate responsibility for investigating claims of clerical sexual abuse against any minors and punishing guilty priests, met the Pope at the end of their Feb. 3-6 plenary meeting." Well.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith bears ultimate responsibility for investigating claims of sexual abuse against minors and punishing guilty priests.

I didn't know that.

That must be the reason why so many clerics got away with sexually abusing so many kids. The members of the doctrinal congregation were supposed to adjudicate criminal charges against child predators, and they probably didn't know. (I have to believe that, because it would hurt too much to believe that they did know, and still didn't do anything.)

They probably thought, as I thought, that the respective county, city or state police officers and district attorneys in the towns and cities where the rapes were committed bore the ultimate responsibility for investigating claims of criminal abuse against minors, and that the judicial system in those respective municipalities bore the responsibility for punishing perpetrators.

What dopes we've been, all of us.

If your 11-year-old son was raped by the assistant pastor, you were supposed to have called the local office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I think if the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the families of the victimized children knew that rule in the first place, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might have been more responsible in meeting its ultimate responsibility, investigating heinous, horrific, despicable crimes against children and bringing to Congregational Justice the sick, demented, treacherous bums who committed them.

I actually have an e-mail from a faithful member of the Catholic Church who argues that legal precedent exists for the separation of church and state to the extent that crimes committed by clerics should not be prosecuted by civilian authorities, but, instead, by the respective church, itself. I knew he wouldn't argue that point if the accused child rapist were Minister Louis Farrakhan, but I didn't want to play the race card in a debate about church co-conspirators collaborating to keep evidence of criminal activity from the civilian authorities, so I haven't answered him, yet.

But, in the event that somebody has missed my point, I believe that priests and rabbis and mullahs and warlocks and ayatollahs who live in the United States of America should obey and be subject to the laws in the United States of America.

They should have licenses to drive cars. They should signal before changing lanes. They should be prosecuted by the local district attorney if they shoot somebody, or defraud their congregation by stealing the contents of the collection box to pay for a dormer on their Shelter Island retirement home, or if they seduce and/or rape their sixth-grade altar server.

I also think - as I've said before - that conspirators in the church's hierarchy whose combined efforts concealed and withheld information that local prosecutors could have used to successfully prosecute demented monsters wearing clerical collars and betraying their purpose, their vows, their church and our children, should be hounded by federal investigators, threatened with criminal prosecution for conspiring as members of an organization that dedicated its collective energies to obstructing justice, and then imprisoned for their unconscionable crimes against humanity and all that for which they so pompously and sanctimoniously have purported to stand.


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