The FBI's Freeh report is now telling us that Joe Paterno and Penn State's president Graham Spanier deliberately engaged in cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's abuse of a minor in 1998. The report offers incontrovertible evidence to show that Spanier and Paterno knew of the abuse, showed no concern for the victim, took no action, demonstrated no concern to prevent possible abuse of more minors, and allowed Sandusky to retire with kudos for his honorable service to Penn State and with never a mention of his history of abusing minors.
And, of course, for any Catholic or anyone following the Catholic abuse story who reads this report, there's absolutely no escaping the eerie sense that one is reading a version of a story one has already read. The parallels between Paterno's, Spanier's, and Sandusky's behavior and that of Catholic officials in the Catholic abuse crisis are everywhere. Stark. Bell-ringing.
I don't forget, as I read about the Freeh report, that
1. Both Paterno and Sandusky have/had strong ties to the Knights of Columbus.
2. And that Paterno and his wife gave the money to build Penn State's current Catholic campus ministry, the Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center.
And so as I read the Freeh report, I'm inclined to ask (and I wonder why the media aren't asking)
1. What role Paterno and Sandusky's close ties to the Knights of Columbus have played in the Penn State cover-up story.
2. What role Paterno's cozy connections to top Catholic officials in his region have played in the Penn State cover-up story.
3. When the diocese is going to speak out about its choice to take money from a man now implicated in the cover-up of horrendous abuse of minors at Penn State, and about its choice to name the university's Catholic mission center (!) after this man and his wife.
These are surely reasonable questions to ask, as we learn more about the cover-up at Penn State, which so closely parallels the cover-up of abuse of minors in the Catholic church that it's as if top Penn State officials have been taking directives from the same playbook used by top Catholic officials.
And as long as I'm talking about Penn State, I'd like to direct readers to this website monitoring allegations of abuse at another university not far down the road from Penn State--St. Vincent's in Latrobe. As we continue to read about what was going on behind the scenes at Penn State, it will be instructive, I suspect, to keep our eyes on St. Vincent's, as well.
I'm inclined to keep asking questions about the role that a certain kind of Catholic clerical culture (which the Knights of Columbus have actively sustained and promoted under their current president Carl Anderson) has played in the cover-up at Penn State. And because I think this is a question well-worth asking, I'm also inclined to continue looking carefully at how the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse has been set into place at Catholic institutions, particularly those in areas not distant from Penn State.