Archbishop Dolan is not happy with the hometown fishwrap or that pesky SNAP. In the meantime Philadelphia's Rigali is taking cues from a Grand Jury.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think John Allen has given up real journalism for the sake of spinning the Church's flaws white as the driven snow? His most recent offering at the NCR deals with a supposed campaign gearing up to take another look at the USCCB's zero tolerance policy. I have some real issues with this piece. The following is taken from the second half of Allen's article:
A final element of the case for reconsideration may have more short-term traction, which is the argument that the process doesn’t protect priests adequately against false accusations. One prominent voice on that front is the Detroit-based group Opus Bono Sacerdotii, meaning “Work for the Good of the Priesthood,” which provides support for accused priests. (what Allen fails to mention is that this is another of Tom Monaghan's interests and that it is heavily supported by Legatus. OBS doesn't care if the priests it helps are guilty or not so don't assume the two thousand priests they claim to have helped are all innocent.)
“The bishops may face a crisis in the ranks of the priesthood, with at least a thousand innocent priests who have been removed and remain out of public ministry because of unproven accusations,” Joe Maher, president and founder of Opus Bono Sacerdotii, said in a Feb. 1 e-mail. (I would like to know how Mr. Maher is defining unproven because many of these accusations are past statute of limitations and can't be proven in any secular criminal context.)
“Active priests are aware of how their accused brethren are being treated by the bishop and wonder what kind of support, if any, will come if they are accused,” Maher said, who added that today the bishops are trying to “sort out” the right way to proceed. (And a lot of those priests never uttered one peep when they know abuse was going on, so they don't actually have much of a right to complain.)
On Jan. 14, the group circulated an e-mail fundraiser featuring the story of an unnamed priest accused in 2009 of spending too much time with a teenager. The priest was removed from ministry, after what he described as a “very biased” assessment by a diocesan-recommended psychologist who had, the accused claimed, a vested interest in a drumming up business for a treatment program. With the support of Opus Bono Sacerdotii, the unnamed priest said, other psychologists cleared him and he was returned to ministry.
Both George and Dolan flagged the danger of false allegations as an area in which U.S. policies may need reform. (OBS has also run campaigns for priests who have freely admitted they molested and molested repeatedly. OBS has run these campaigns irrespective of the wishes of the local bishop. I guess OBS is above other Catholic endeavors like hospitals in Phoenix.)
“We have to keep looking at the process, so that predators are permanently removed but in a way that also doesn’t harm people who are innocent,” George said.
Dolan echoed the point, saying that his major regret about the way cases were handled at the outset of the crisis is that some priests were publicly removed and thus branded as abusers, even though the allegations were impossible to substantiate, “and to this day they’re living with that terrible burden.”
Dolan said that under current rules, any credible but unsubstantiated allegation triggers suspension pending a preliminary investigation -- “and in the vast majority of instances,” he said, “you can’t remove a guy without people jumping to conclusions.” (Operative word is credible which is why people might be jumping to conclusions.
The problem is compounded, Dolan said, by what he and others perceive as a higher percentage of false accusations today. During the initial outbreak of the crisis, he said, “the vast majority [of accusations] tragically were accurate ... I wouldn’t say that anymore.” (That's not what the experts say. In fact they say there are fewer false accusations now than previously--and that previous rate was 1.4%)
Both prelates suggested that the risk of further abuse makes it difficult to revise the policy of immediate suspension, but said more thought needs to be given to how a priest who’s cleared can win back his good name.
If there is to be an evolution, today’s whispering campaign may have to become more vocal -- especially in offering cover to bishops when they step outside the zero-tolerance box. (Let me get this right, first they exempt themselves from the Dallas Charter, and now they want to exempt themselves from implementing the Dallas Charter. Wow.)
Dolan cited the case of Msgr. Wallace Harris, a popular pastor in Harlem accused of sexually abusing high school students in the 1980s. Harris resigned and officials vowed that he will never return to ministry, but Dolan did not remove him from the priesthood.(Which means Harris is still being paid by the Archdiocese for doing nothing and that may have something to do with people's not being accepting of keeping molesters in the priesthood. No other employer keeps these kinds of failed employees on their payroll in exchange for doing nothing.)
Dolan wondered why Catholic voices pushing for a reconsideration of zero tolerance weren’t more outspoken in support of his handling of the Harris case.
“Where are these guys when The New York Times and company blasts me, or SNAP [the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests] and everybody pickets me?” he asked. “Are they defending me when I’m being attacked for letting him keep his priesthood? No, they run for cover.”
Such reactions suggest that unless what Rossetti described as the “voice of the people” changes its tune, some tinkering may occur, but in general zero tolerance will remain the order of the day.
There was quite a bit in this latest Allen piece I found objectionable such a this from one Fr. Guarino:
Guarino argued that zero tolerance -- especially forced laicization, meaning removal from the priesthood against a priest’s will -- distorts the theology of the priesthood, turning it into a job from which one may be fired for poor performance, rather than a permanent sacred calling.
“This may have the short-term advantage of preventing litigants from storming the church door,” Guarino wrote. “It may keep the media at bay for the moment -- a media that, in any case, will always find the church a stumbling block ... But such actions are also having the disastrous effect of eroding Catholic doctrine, the only treasure that the church really has to offer.”
So what is Guarino really saying, that our children should continue to be sacrificed to the fantasy of the magical priesthood. Good Lord, if the abuse crisis has proven anything it's proven that ordination does not magically change anything about the ontological leanings of any given priest. What is he really afraid of? That lay Catholics are beginning to figure out that clericalism is based on fantastical and inventifacted thinking? Oh, and by the way, it is not Church doctrine that is the Church's treasure. It's treasure lies in the teachings and life of Jesus Christ and the communal expression of that life. Just sayin'.
Archbishop Dolan, he who is whining about no one coming to his defense, is also involved in some past history in his previous assignment. It seems the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is missing some 75 million dollars. Lost under Dolan's watch. That would be a lot of beer--even for him. Maybe Bernie Madoff did something with it. It couldn't be that it was misplaced to shelter it from exposure to settlements from some really nasty work by clerics in Milwaukee. Maybe this little issue is the reason Dolan has returned to sniping at the NY Times and SNAP.
I actually find it mind boggling that Allen would write something like this when Philadelphia is embroiled in yet another Grand Jury Investigation which alleges criminal malfeasance on the part of the Archdiocese in not removing abusive priests. I have read the report, and like the first report, it is sickening. For the life of me I can't get into the heads of men who would so cavalierly place these pedophiles in one new parish after another. Cardinal Rigali has finally agreed to investigate the 37 other credibly accused priests mentioned in the Grand Jury report. This is not the week for Dolan to come out whining about zero tolerance and unfounded accusations--not when Cardinal Rigali is lucky he wasn't forced to post bail for his predecessor Cardinal Bevilaqua. Ironic that Bevilaqua was one of the forces behind the Dallas Charter. This whole thing gets so surreal sometimes it's no wonder Allen writes these kinds of articles.
One last note at the NCR is Phyllis Zagano's latest effort "Repairing the Broken Church". Although I personally don't think adding a married priesthood to the current clerical system is a real answer for the woes of the current clerical system, her article makes way more sense than John Allens latest effort.