Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two More Valuable Statements on Catholic Abuse Situation: Patrick Wall and National Catholic Reporter

And, to place the discussion of Donohue's New York Times ad in the broader context of ongoing discussion of the cover-up of the abuse crisis by church leaders, two more valuable statements hot off the press:

The first is a posting Patrick Wall made on his blog yesterday about how Philadelphia signals the turning of the tide in the public's understanding of the abuse situation in the Catholic church, and the understanding many faithful Catholics now have of this situation.  In Wall's view, it is and always has been about cover-up.  Not about addressing the abuse crisis honestly and proactively.  It has been about cover-up from the very moment the U.S. Catholic bishops told us in 2002 that they intended to offer healing to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and to assure that children would be protected from abuse in the future.  

From that time forward, Wall maintains, the bishops have been mounting a "grand plan" that has employed "four distinct modes of tactical deception."  These are the National Review Board, the John Jay study, the Gavin Group's annual audit, and diminishing enforcement of the Dallas charter.

Re: the National Review Board, Wall reminds us of a significant bit of history we ought not permit ourselves to forget, as Donohue raves on (with the apparent blessing of the USCCB): former FBI agent and federal prosecutor Frank Keating resigned from the board in 2003 stating, after a year of frustrating experiences trying to deal with bishops whose behavior he characterized as akin to that of the Mafia, “To resist grand jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church.”  And since that time, Wall points out, the Review Board has done little to nothing to assure that the bishops adhere to their promises of 2002.

Re: the John Jay study, which Bill Donohue and others keep using to "prove" that the abuse crisis is all about the abuse of young adolescent males by gay priests, Wall points out: "John Jay was utterly dependent upon the information each Bishop decided to give them."  And: "The study was nothing more than a third-party rehash of only the information that the USCCB wanted to be publicly disseminated."  As Wall notes, the method this "study" employed was tantamount to asking the police to investigate a murder, and then informing the criminal investigators that they could use only evidence turned over to them by the murder himself.

Re: the annual "audit" conducted by the Gavin Group, Wall reminds us, the auditing method is like nothing we'd encounter in the real world, where outside auditors have the right to request any and all evidence available to assure a group is on the financial up and up.  Instead, the method used is "stunningly similar" to that of the John Jay "study": "The Bishops ONLY give the Gavin Group what the Bishops want the public to know."

And we now know, per the 2010 audit just published, that the archdiocese of Philadelphia can pass the annual audit just as a grand jury investigation finds an alarming number of priests credibly accused of abuse still in ministry!  And it has done so every year the audits have been conducted!!

And, finally, there is a growing body of serious evidence demonstrating that the bishops are quietly engaged in diminishing enforcement of the 2002 charter, despite their claims that the abuse crisis is resolved, over and done with, things all cleaned up.  Even with its access to partial, highly selected, carefully massaged information, this year's audit found 55 dioceses and eparchies out of compliance with the Dallas charter.

Catholics, are you listening?  The U.S. Catholic bishops have played you for fools.  And they have every intent of continuing to do so, if you permit this.  If anybody can tell you the truth about what's going on with the abuse cover-up, he (and Tom Doyle, and Richard Sipe and the folks at SNAP) can do so.

And there's also this: the same day that Donohue published his New York Times ad and the USCCB released the results of the annual audit, National Catholic Reporter published an editorial deploring the constant "legal shenanigans and ethical lapses" of the Catholic bishops vis-a-vis the abuse cover-up, shenanigans and lapses on full display all over again in Philadelphia courtrooms right now.  And so, 

It is time for Catholics to acknowledge what is clear: Despite the promises made at the height of the sex abuse crisis nearly a decade ago, the leadership of the church on both a local and national level has failed to deal forthrightly with the clergy abuse crisis. Certainly many dioceses and bishops are diligently applying the charter they adopted in 2002. They respond quickly to accusations and do their best to work the canonical system to remove problem priests. But what Philadelphia reveals is that the system is easily compromised, dependent as it still is on sheer trust at too many levels and on the goodwill of bishops who remain above accountability.

And what does NCR propose, concretely?  First, faithful Catholics need to call on the hierarchy to implement the recommendations of the Philadelphia grand jury at a national level.  Second, there need to be "Philadelphia-style investigations" in more places.  And, finally, Cardinal Rigali needs to resign.

Because, if Philadelphia shows us anything, it shows us the whole system is broken and not capable of working without major overhaul.  And all the bullying and the frothing at the mouth of Bully Bill Donohue and whoever keeps funneling money to him to engage in his shameful, mean-spirited carnival sideshow is no longer going to divert most thinking folks' attention from that glaringly obvious reality.

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