Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"A Living Symbol of the Catholic Church's Tolerance for the Sexual Abuse of Children": Cardinal Law's Legacy Remembered

For the New Civil Rights Movement website, David Badash gathers a thought-provoking compendum of responses to news of the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, whose legacy will be summed up by his protection of priests abusing minors, by the lies he told to accomplish that end, by his hunger for ecclesiastical power and power in the secular realm and how he used that power to harm others. As one thinks about this life and that legacy, it's hard not to hear gospel verses ringing in one's ears — about how we'll be judged at the end of our lives according to how we dealt with the least among us; about how what we whisper in the dark will be shouted from the rooftops; about how the crops we reap will be from the seeds we have sown.

I wish no one (including my own hidebound and very imperfect self) anything but mercy, though I struggle with my desire for vengeance when I have been wronged and hurt by others. But wishing mercy for any creature at all is not antithetical to telling the plain and whole truth about who we creatures are, and what some of us manage to do to each other in the course of our lives. 

Let the truth be told as this prince of the Catholic church is remembered now. In full.

The following editorial statement in the Australian Saturday Paper this week about the fate of the Catholic church in light of what the royal commission about child sexual abuse by Catholic clerics has just revealed seems to me synchronistically appropriate, in light of Law's death:

But there is one larger change that must also take place. It is not called for in the official documents, but it is urgent and necessary. The church must no longer be allowed to interfere with public life. 
In the course of this commission, the church has shown itself to disregard ordinary laws. Frequently, it operated in conflict with them. At the same time, it attempted to control the moral life of the country. 
The church maintains undue influence over laws governing euthanasia and abortion and stem-cell research. It collects undue privilege from the tax system and for its shadow systems of education and healthcare. It holds obscene rights to discriminate against minorities. All of this must change. 
Politics kowtows to faith, even as faith plays a diminished role in life. As church pews have emptied, the corridors of power have filled with lobbying priests and other defenders of clerical privilege. But this commission proves what has always been true: the church has no claim to superiority and no right to dictate to others. That lesson must be learnt. Our country would be better for it.


P.S. The quotation in the title of this posting is a statement by Michael Rezendes of the Boston Globe spotlight team in the video interview with journalists from Boston 25 found in the David Badash article.

What a legacy.

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