Monday, March 7, 2011

Philadelphia Abuse Story Continues to Unfold

The abuse story involving the Catholic archdiocese of Philadelphia keeps unfolding.  CNN is reporting today that attorneys for an unnamed adult male plaintiff living in Delaware will announce a lawsuit today against the archdiocese:

"The Lawsuit will allege that Archdiocese officials conspired to endanger the safety of the Plaintiff when they actively concealed their knowledge of (a) priest's previous offenses, lied to parishioners, and created a sham sexual abuse victim assistance program for the Archdiocese," according to a news release announcing the lawsuit. 

Named in the suit are Cardinal Justin Rigali, the current archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, former archbishop, and Monsignor William Lynn, a former top aide to Bevilacqua.  Lynn is the secretary of clergy who is under indictment in the current grand jury action.  

The suit will accuse these defendants of conspiracy to endanger children, fraudulent concealment, and actual fraud.  As Patrick Wall asked in a posting a few weeks ago at his blog site about Lynn--a  "bishop's man," Wall calls him, borrowing the term from Linden MacIntyre's novel of that name--how is it that diocese after diocese seems to have missed what the 2002 USCCB Dallas charter says about keeping priests credibly accused of abuse out of ministry?  Bishop's men are priests who will do anything their bishops command, no questions asked, scratching the superior's back in the confident expectation of having their own backs scratched eventually in the system of ecclesial preferment.

Wall notes that not only has Lynn been recently indicted in Philadelphia, but his counterpart Msgr. Michael Myers in Los Angeles also had to resign in February when it was discovered that the Los Angeles diocese placed a known offender, Rev. Martin O'Loghlen, back into ministry in the spring of 2009--contra the norms of the Dallas charter.  As Wall notes, the replication of this occurrence in various dioceses shows us that we're not dealing with isolated incidents but with a pattern--and one that the much-touted John Jay audit did not discover: a pattern of Catholic ordinaries skirting the norms of their own USCCB charter to keep credibly accused priests in ministry, and lying to the public as this takes place, and as they make false claims that the abuse situation has been resolved and the crisis is over.

If anyone thinks we're moving in a new and hopeful direction and that the Catholic church in the U.S. is back on track, just take a look at the thread following my recent posting about Joelle Casteix's radio interview re: the O'Loghlen case.  Look at the continued attempts--still! even now--to offer every excuse under the sun for Martin O'Loghlen's predatory advances to a teenaged girl, and to assassinate the messenger, Joelle Casteix, for breaking this story.  Look at the ugly misogyny underlying the whole story, with its implication that men should have the right to own women, that women reporting sexual abuse shouldn't be believed, that women are deceitful temptresses creating the conditions for their own abuse.

We haven't come far at all down the road to healing.  Or honesty.  Or the kind of truth that washes away filth, for which Patrick Wall prays in the posting to which I like above, citing an ancient Jewish prayer: Blessed is the flow of the River of Truth, which helps us to wash away the filth.

May that river keep flowing.  And washing.

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