Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bob Hoatson, "Cardinal Dolan: Where Are My Twenty-Thousand Dollars?"

Bob Hoatson, 2007, SNAP Conference
In my posting yesterday about the Dolan affair and the double standard in how the Catholic hierarchy treats priests found to be abusing minors, as compared to how it deals with those who blow the whistle, I referred to a statement that Bob Hoatson had sent to NSAC News, which hadn't yet appeared at the NSAC site.  I had gotten the statement by email through NSAC News.

This morning, I'm seeing that Frank Douglas has helpfully uploaded Hoatson's comments to the Voice from the Desert website.  For readers who would like to read the entire statement (and I encourage you to do so), this is a great service.

Meanwhile, Paul Moses has begun a thread at the Commonweal blog that is also looking at the Dolan case.  I recommend this thread, too, in particular, because a number of contributors to it have provided links to valuable documents helping all of us following the situation to understand it better and make informed judgments about it.

And for a discussion prompted by Nicholas Cafardi, who thinks that Cardinal Dolan is receiving a bum rap for how he handled payments to priests being laicized in the Milwaukee archdiocese, see this new thread at America's "In All Things" blog.  I find Cafardi's assessment of the situation defective in two ways: first, it doesn't deal with Dolan's evasion of the truth, which I think is absolutely central to this story; and, second, it doesn't in any way advert to the glaring double standard that the church uses in dealing with priests abusing minors, on the one hand, and whistle-blowing priests, on the other hand--which Bob Hoatson outlines sharply, and which deserves serious consideration.

Also of value for this ongoing discussion: SNAP Wisconsin has uploaded to its site a letter of Fr. Jim Connell of Sheboygan to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel two days ago.  This letter helpfully addresses some of the distinctions that several good readers of this blog--notably, Colleen Baker and Kathy Hughes--have been discussing in threads about the Dolan situation: in particular, the difference between laicizing an abusive priest and reporting him to criminal authorities.  As Connell notes,

Yet the explanation from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee concerning the large payments to priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor – payments intended to help the priests’ transition back into the lay life and to speed up the laicization (defrocking) process – fails to show that church leaders see these priests as criminals. Rather, it simply demonstrates a pragmatic approach to a problem at hand.

And as he also points out, though the "pragmatic approach" may have something to recommend it from a business-oriented point of view--namely, it saves a diocese money by relieving it of responsibility for further financial support of a priest whose ties to the church have been cut--it "does not take into account the feelings of the victims/survivors and what making a lump-sum payment might mean to them, to their supporters and to the society-at-large, especially if the payment is to help the priests’ transition back into the lay state. Criminals receive punishment, not transition pay."

Fr. Connell is absolutely right about this, it seems to me.

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