Surrender unto Caesar
: The more I read about the Catholic pedophilia scandal, the more convinced I become that it is time to prosecute bishops and cardinals who aided and abetted these crimes by knowingly hiding the criminals from prosecution and allowing them to commit more of their crimes against more young victims. They obstructed justice. They became accessories to the crimes. They share the guilt.
The Catholic church is not above the law. Bishops and cardinals are not above the law. Neither is above judgment, civil or divine.
I would not be so hot under the clerical collar about the occasional slimeball who sinned; slimeballs exist in all walks of life; sin happens. It is the concerted, conspiratorial effort to hide the acts of these slimeballs and allow them to continue the crimes that is so irresponsible, immoral, illegal, and shocking.
Today’s NY TImes says the scandal is about to cost the church members as it costs it millions of dollars for formerly secret settlements. The church is being forced to sell property, even church buildings, to pay for its sins. And as I said yesterday, the church and its leaders are losing their moral credibility. The Times agrees:
All sides agree that the church is in danger of losing the moral credibility in speaking out on political as well as social issues, including the death penalty and the status of Jerusalem. “If the church does not respond vigorously to this scandal, then the authority the hierarchy has to teach morally will vanish,” said R. Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame. “It won’t just be a crisis, it will be all over but the shouting. There will be no moral credibility for the bishops to speak about justice, truth, racial equality, war or immigration if they can’t get their own house in order.”
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports that NY Cardinal Egan allowed predator priests to continue work while he was bishop of Hartford; he won’t talk about it. Also in Boston, Cardinal Law’s new commission on the issue clearly has blinders on. ”We have a pretty good system in place for protecting kids. I think we need to bring the church in step with what the rest of the world is doing right now,” said one of the commissioners. My ass.
This is why I think indictments are in order. The church has to come clean.
And finally, I find a story that raises the possibliity in the Boston Herald.
A.W. “Richard” Sipe, a former priest and specialist on clerical pedophilia who has served as an expert witness in priestly abuse cases for nearly 25 years, says the criminal prosecution of a Catholic Church supervisor “is now inevitable the more we learn about the breadth of the problem and depth of the secrecy around the nation.”
“A prosecution is going to happen sooner or later,” he added. “Laws in different states will afford the authorities there with the tools they need. This is the natural unfolding of this whole process.”
Dozens of Catholic priests have been prosecuted for molestation around the United States in the last two decades – most recently defrocked serial pedophile John J. Geoghan, 66, of Scituate. But no ecclesiastical supervisor has ever faced criminal proceedings for allowing priests such as Geoghan to continue in the ministry long after their proclivities became known.
Last year, in the first case of its kind, French Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux was criminally prosecuted for failing to report an abusive priest under his command to the authorities. He received nine months’ probation.
It is too soon to tell whether such prosecutions will happen in the United States. Even now, in some states, dioceses are declining to provide internal records to the authorities, opening them up to subpoenas and other court action….
[Under] Bay State law, there are three possible avenues for criminal prosecution of the church.
The first two would be Chapter 274, Sections 2 and 4, of Massachusetts General Law pertaining to being an accessory before or after the fact. One relevant passage, from Section 4, they say, reads: “Whoever after the commission of a felony . . . gives such offender any other aid knowing that he has committed a felony . . . with the intent that he should avoid or escape detention . . . shall be an accessory after the fact.”
The third avenue, they say, would be under state and federal laws pertaining to corporate criminal liability. In a 1987 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court declared “knowledge obtained by corporate employees acting within the scope of the employment is imputed to the corporation, in contest of corporate criminal liability.” The Archdiocese of Boston is “a corporation sole” under state law.
“If it’s good enough for Arthur Andersen,” said diGenova, speaking of the giant accounting firm hit last week with criminal charges for violating federal securities law and destroying evidence, “it ought to be good enough for the church.”
I’m not the only one to find the connection between Anderson and the Catholic scandal (see yesterday’s post, below).
There is a crisis of moral credibility in this country.
The 16th minute
: The NY Times had a great headline last week over its story on the Fox celebrity sucker punch show: “Welcome to the 16th minute.” Here is what happens after your 15 minutes of fame are over, after you’re used up and washed up and everything is down from there. You end up fighting other has-beens for the amusement of the coliseum masses on TV.
Or you attend Liza Minelli’s wedding.
Today, the NY Post — a paper I love — has the single most rediculous, ludicrous, pathetic, laughable headline I have ever seen: “UNVEILED… EXCLUSIVE… LIZA’S LAST MINUTE SWITCH….”
The switch: She decided not to wear her veil because it would cover her famous spiked hair and her sparkling diamond earrings.
Fame has come to this.
To get a complete who’s who of the has-been, just read the guest list: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Diana Ross, Joan Collins, Robert Wagner, Celeste Holm, Janet Leigh (in falsh eyelashes, the Post reports), Freda Payne (in false eyelashes), Jill St. John (in false eyelashes), Olivia Hussey, Arlene Dahl, Carroll Baker, Phyllis Diller.
: Muslim Pundit has a good post beginning to explain fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity.
I also learned a lot a week ago when the Rev. Dr. Steven Blackburn, who teaches on the subject, came to my little church and explained some of the differences in simple terms even I could begin to understand. He drew a chart of equivalencies between Islam and Christianity and explained that the equal of Jesus is not Mohammed, it is the Qur’an; Christians believe that the word of God became flesh in Jesus while Muslims believe that the word of God is made whole in the written word, in the Qur’an; that is what makes it so sacrosanct. And that, I began to understand, is why fundamentalism could flourish in Islam — even more than in Christianity.
No, not Sonny
: Great Photodude post on Bono as the new Zelig of politics and great causes.
: A good story in the NY Times today recognizes that the end of the work at Ground Zero is near. The debris is down from mountains to hills now.
I’m OK, you’re…
: The Washington Post writes about continuing psychic stress for survivors of the attacks: insomnia, flashbacks, edginess. I don’t have the symptoms but I’m still scared about what’s going to happen next. I call that sanity, not psychic stress.
: I finally got around to updating my links to other great blogs, on the right. If I left you out, sorry; my virtual desk is as messy as my real one.