Monday, March 31, 2014

New York Times "Retro Report" on "The Shame of the Church"

What did you think, those of you who watched the Al Jazeera America "Holy Money" documentary last evening? And the video documentaries just keep coming: the New York Times has just released a documentary entitled "The Shame of the Church," which is part of its "Retro Report" series.

As narrator Zachary Green states at one point in the documentary, the bottom line for many Catholics continues to be the following: while priests can be disciplined for sexually abusing minors, it appears that bishops are untouchable. A case in point, he notes, is that of Robert Finn in Kansas City, who continues to exercise episcopal jurisdiction despite having been convicted on criminal charges of protecting a priest who, as Finn knew, posed a threat to minors.

At another point in the documentary, there's a painful reminder of a shocking piece of evidence I cannot ever forget, when people tell me the problem in my church does not really go deep and has now been dealt with: this is the article of Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin published by Dallas Morning News on 12 June 2002, providing solid evidence that two-thirds of U.S. Catholic bishops had, at that point, covered up abuse of minors by priests. The video focuses in on the headline in the Dallas paper, "Two-Thirds of Bishops Let Accused Priests Work."

Last week, a 76-year-old Franciscan priest Father Jerry Zawada was ordered by the Vatican to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance for having celebrated Mass with a woman priest. Zawada has been repeatedly arrested for having taken part in anti-war demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Bishop Finn continues to sit on his episcopal throne--and I suppose this really shouldn't surprise me, when an investigation done by journalists in 2002 found that two-thirds of Catholic bishops in my country had, as of that date, shielded priests sexually abusing minors. The mentality that bishops are untouchable little lords of their lands--powerful white men who own many things--continues to be strong in my Catholic church, and links them to other powerful white men who own many things, affording them much cover and much protection.

Though it isn't doing a great deal for their credibility as moral leaders or pastoral authority figures, is it?

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