Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jim Jenkins on Philadelphia Story: Bishops at Heart of Story, but Lay Catholics Complicit

And another must-not-miss piece of commentary today for anyone tracking the abuse crisis in the Catholic church and wanting to understand why it has happened and what needs to be done to deal with it: James Jenkins' "Philadelphia Story" at the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) website.  Jenkins formerly chaired the archdiocesan review board in San Francisco.  He knows whereof he speaks.

His take on where the heart of the problem lies?  Certainly with the bishops.  And their corrupted pastoral leadership.  In their handling of the abuse situation, many bishops are and have been "conniving corrupt politicians," "cowards," "morally compromised," "criminally complicit." 

The diocesan review boards are "creatures of the bishops' authority," controlled by the bishops and lacking any authority to compel a bishop to do anything.  From the outset in many dioceses, bishops violated the pledge implicit in the 2002 charter to give review boards an independent status free of episcopal manipulation.

But there's more: if we, if we lay Catholics, let this sham go on, then we are every bit as much a part of the problem as are the bishops and the priests abusing minors.

It is our money that makes up the hush funds to silence survivors, our money that priests use to buy their vacation homes or motels rooms where they take children to assault them, it is our money that pays for the rectory residence where most of the assaults occurred, it is our money given to priests that pays for bribe gifts and credit cards for victims, it is our money that supports the phalanx of lawyers and public relations firms that defend the bishops. (I could go on, and on). 

And so the solution to this crisis lies in the hands of those providing the money that fuels the machinery that keeps the pay-offs and hardball legal defenses and media spin machine (aka Bully Bill Donohue's Catholic League) running.

History will continue to repeat itself until Catholics take matters into their own hands and forever reform the priesthood from parish to pope, as we have known it.

Jenkins is right on target.  Are lay Catholics beginning to wake up?  I'm not getting the picture that they are.

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