Thursday, September 22, 2005

Clergy Abuse Report: Too Much Brotherly Love

Philadelphia Inquirer

"What we found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and defiled it." report of the Philadelphia Grand Jury of September 17, 2003, impaneled to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy (released September 20, 2005)

You don't have to be Catholic to know sin when you see it. You only have to be a human being. Here in Philly, many decent human beings are reeling from a Grand Jury report describing such massive evil perpetrated by priests and such a widespread cover-up by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, it makes Cardinal Law and his buddies in Boston look like amateurs.

The abusive priests in Philly and those who protected them weren't amateurs, they were pros of the highest order when it came to abusing not only children, but their own high offices and the power of God supposedly put in their hands by the Catholic Church.

It's a shonda. That's a Yiddish word, but in this case it's particularly apt. Like many Yiddish words, it has both a literal translation and a highly descriptive explication. Shonda literally means "shame." But its reference is more specific "you have deliberately brought shame and dishonor on yourself and this house, and you should be ashamed of yourself for such reprehensible behavior." What better way to comment on the actions of those both high and low in Philadelphia's Catholic Church as described in the Grand Jury's damning report?

Two Philadelphia Cardinals, John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua, are named specifically in the report as leaders of a cover-up dating back to the 60s, protecting pedophiliac and abusive priests along with the Church's holy name. Holy name? Holy Hell! I can't sum it up any better than Craig R. McCoy of the Phila Inquirer:
The grand jury report on sex crimes within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia yesterday painted unforgiving portraits of Cardinals John Krol and Anthony J. Bevilacqua - as architects of a decades-long cover-up that exalted damage control above the cries of children.

With an unremitting fury, the report dipped deep into the church's secret archive of internal documents to make the case that the two cardinals protected scores of child molesters with clerical collars - enabling many to attack again and again.

It said the pair sabotaged investigations, transferred priests to hide them, made a mockery of abusers' therapy, and punished whistle-blowers - all the while keeping police, victims, parents, parishioners and the public in the dark.

The grand jury said Krol and Bevilacqua were alike in their "calculated indifference" to human pain and their unswerving goal of squelching scandal and lawsuit payouts.
God Almighty, there are High Schools named after these guys!

The Inquirer has done a masterful job of putting the whole picture together in a clear, comprehensive package. Unfortunately, when you unwrap that package, the stench is overwhelming. There are descriptions of abuse that chill your blood.

Look at this List of the accusations involving Philadelphia Archdiocese priests. But only if you have a strong stomach. No, let me amend that. Every adult on the planet, especially those who continue to defend the Catholic Church's laughable policies on abusive priests, should carefully review this. ALL of it.

You know why? Because the abuse and cover-up are an offense to true believers everywhere. It undermines the foundations of real faith, genuine devotion and the comfort of passing on a revered religion to your children. I'm Jewish but that doesn't mean I'm unfamiliar with the importance of belief, and tradition. Far from it. And Jews know better than most what it's like to have your trust betrayed, and the world turn against you. The Catholic Church, in its incredible hubris and self-delusion, has set up its own most dedicated members to take the heat of the world's disapproval and may well have turned many of the real faithful away from its own doors through its own heinous acts.

Acts like these:
* An 11-year old girl who was raped by her priest and became pregnant. The priest took her in for an abortion.

* A fifth-grader who was molested inside a confessional booth.

* A 12-year-old who, raped and sodomized by his priest, tried to commit suicide and remains in a mental hospital as an adult.

* Another 12-year-old boy, repeatedly raped by his priest, was told by that priest that his mother had approved of the abuse.

* Father Cudemo raped an 11-year-old girl, molested a fifth grader in the confessional, invoked God to seduce and shame his victims, and maintained sexually abusive relationships simultaneously with several girls from the Catholic school where he was a teacher. His own family sued him for molesting a cousin. Philadelphia Inquirer 09/21/2005
And these:
* One priest, described as "one of the sickest people I ever knew" by the Archdiocese official in charge of investigations, was allowed by Bevilacqua to remain a priest with full access to children - until the sex abuse scandal broke in 2002.

* Father Edward M. DePaoli, ordained in 1970, was convicted in 1986 of receiving child pornography through the mail. A 1985 search by U.S. Postal Inspectors of his rectory room at Holy Martyrs Church in Oreland turned up an estimated $15,000 worth of pornography... . At the time he was teaching morals and ethics at an Archdiocese high school. He continued in the ministry until 2002.

* One archdiocese official comforted a priest abuser by suggesting that perhaps the priest had been "seduced" by his victim - who was 11 years old.

* Bevilacqua "agreed to harbor a known abuser" from another diocese, after the priest's activities there started becoming known. The practice was known as "bishops helping bishops." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/22/2005
Albert DiDomenico, a Catholic interviewed by the Inquirer, said that while he remained a loyal member of St. Richard's Parish in South Philadelphia, the scandal had caused him to stop going to confession. "Now, I'd want to go in there and ask the priest, 'Who first, Father? You first, then I'll tell you mine,' "

Marie Whitehead, the local president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said she hoped Catholics would be "angered at the lack of shepherding and leadership by the church leaders. I hope they do everything in their power, and they have a lot more power than they think, to get the laws changed to protect children."

I'm with her. I want to scream out to all Catholic parents, hell, all parents of any faith, "Watch over your children! Look for signs of abuse and don't let blind faith cloud your instincts and your ability to believe your children have been hurt. Call the police. Press charges. Get a lawyer. Don't let your children pay while you simply pray."

That's my biggest concern about this. I worry that abuse by clergy will continue without criminal consequences to the abusers because some people's faith is so great they can't bring themselves to accept the reality that priests are first men, then men of God. And while many are certainly above reproach, others are totally beneath contempt.

The local Archdiocese response so far has been to adamantly deny most charges (quel supris!) and claim the report has an "anti-Catholic" bias. What chutzpah. Tell me please, what in God's name is more anti-Catholic than abusing children in the name of God -- and then hiding in His House to escape deserved and just retribution?

Talk about Original Sin. I guess in the Philadelphia Archdiocese it means "suffer the little children."



Blogger Super Blogger said...

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1:42 PM  
Blogger MamaQ said...

Amen, Sally.
I had a few things to say about it today myself, being a product of Catholic education in Philadelphia.

2:47 PM  
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