Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recent News about Dolan Affair: Glaring Double Standard in Treatment of Pedophile Priests and Whistle-Blower Priests

In case you've missed these pieces, folks, I thought that this morning I'd point you to some statements about the Dolan affair that have come to my attention following my posting about that topic this past Monday: 

1. The same day I posted, Mark Silk wrote a piece at his Spiritual Politics blog entitled "Dolan Doubles Down."  Mark notes, as my posting did, the attempt of some of the dotCommonweal crowd to defend His Eminence after Laurie Goodstein wrote her report about payoffs to pedophile priests in the Milwaukee archdiocese re: which Dolan clearly knew, though he has indicated the contrary.

2. Also on 4 June, Andrew Sullivan posted again about the Dolan affair with a statement entitled, "Dolan: Is He a Republican Pol or a Cardinal?"  Sullivan's conclusion:

You heard that right. A cardinal from a church revealed to have operated a global child rape cover-up for decades says the chief group for the victims "has no credibility whatsoever." After this outburst, Dolan took a week off in Ireland.

3. At the SNAP website, David Clohessy has issued a "media events" statement noting that more evidence contradicts His Eminence's claims re: payoffs to notorious Milwaukee pedophile priest Franklyn Becker.  As David notes, new internal evidence from records of the archdiocese of Milwaukee have now surfaced and are available at the Bishop Accountability website showing that Becker was paid $10,000 in 2005, and that the payoff was not linked to "health insurance," as His Eminence has claimed.  The new finds also include a 27 May 2003 letter of Dolan as archbishop of Milwaukee to Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, promising Ratzinger that Dolan would set up a "special fund" to support Becker, who had admitted he had abused minors.

4. At the SNAP Wisconsin website, Peter Isely also takes a look at these new documents, noting that after the archdiocese gave Becker his $10,000 "signing bonus" as he left the priesthood, Dolan sent Deacon David Zimprich, a top Milwaukee archdiocesan official, to Becker to assure him that Dolan would not notify the public of Becker's extensive history of abusing minors.

5. I want to mention as well a statement that came to me by email today via Steve Sheehan's NSAC News, which I don't find uploaded yet to the NSAC website.  NSAC = National Advocate Survivors Coalition, and I highly recommend Steve Sheehan's daily newsletter from that group, for those following the abuse crisis in the Catholic church.  The website, to which I've just pointed you, will provide information about subscribing to the e-newsletter.

Today's NSAC News contains a statement by Bob Hoatson entitled "Cardinal Dolan: Where Are My Twenty Thousand Dollars?"  In response to my statement about the Dolan affair on Monday, Colleen Baker of the Enlightened Catholicism blog wrote in to say that there's a glaring double standard between how pedophile priests like Franklyn Becker are treated by church officials, and how priests like Geoff Farrow get treated.  

Collen's absolutely right, and Hoatson's statement validates that judgment.  As Bob Hoatson notes, when he was laicized in December 2011, there were no "signing bonuses" of the sort handed out to Becker and other pedophile priests.  Nor were there assurances of continued assistance and support and protection from church officials.

Instead, after Hoatson had begun to assist victims of childhood clerical abuse and had informed his bishop that the Holy Spirit had led him to take that step, he was fired from his inner-city school ministry, had his salary docked twice and benefits diminished, was stripped of some his priestly powers, and was told to stop engaging in his ministry to abuse survivors.

When Hoatson requested laicization, he was summarily dumped by church officials in a way reminiscent of the treatment dished out to Geoff Farrow after he preached a homily expressing support for marriage equality (and here).  After he preached that homily, Farrow was summarily removed from his position as a pastor, and stripped of his pension and health benefits.  

And as if that were not enough humiliation and vicious reprisal on the part of church officials, the archdiocese of Los Angeles then tried to interfere in Farrow's attempt to find subsequent employment, blocking his attempt to obtain a position with a non-profit by threatening to withdraw diocesan support for the non-profit if it hired Farrow.

Conclusion: priests who have admitted that they have raped children are coddled by church officials, given "signing bonuses" and assurances that those officials will not disclose information about their sexual abuse of minors to the public.  Priests working with victims of such child rape by priests or who advocate for the human rights of gay persons are punished, have their health benefits stripped and future employment blocked.

If you think something's not quite right about this picture from a gospel standpoint, you're absolutely correct.  And this is why, contra the attempt of powerful Catholic centrists who imagine that they and the bishops alone define Catholic identity in the U.S. to defend the hierarchs behaving in this utterly unjust way, many people are now distancing themselves and will continue to distance themselves from the Catholic church.

Because these actions and the priorities they proclaim to the world do not proclaim the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the world.

No comments: