Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Catholic Church must remember who and what it’s supposed to serve

Catholic Church must remember who and what it’s supposed to serve

By Jerry Moore, Suburban Life Publications
Posted Apr 27, 2010 @ 01:08 PM
Western suburbs — The Roman Catholic Church is on the verge of losing what little credibility it has left.

For more than 20 years, a sexual-abuse scandal has been deteriorating the church’s moral authority. Recent reports that Pope Benedict XVI, in a previous role, may have been an obstacle in dealing with the controversy diminishes the church’s position that it’s seriously addressing the problem.

The scandal has struck the western suburbs like it has most regions of the country. Robert E. Mayer, a former priest, was convicted in 1992 of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl at St. Odilo Parish in Berwyn, where he served as pastor from 1990-91. He previously served as pastor of St. Dionysius Parish in Cicero from 1988-89.

Mayer was accused of sexually abusing children at several parishes where he served. He was assigned to the parish in which I grew up, but I was not aware of any accusations against him until he was charged in 1991.

What perplexes me is that although he was suspected of being a pedophile for many years, the Chicago Archdiocese simply passed Mayer along from church to church. What’s worse, he was named a pastor of two different parishes after officials became aware of these allegations.

Earlier this year, the Rev. Alejandro Flores of Shorewood was charged with sexually abusing a child for five years. The boy, who’s 13 and lives in St. Charles, is the priest’s godson.

The Associated Press recently published a letter signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1985 that showed the Vatican dragged its feet in dealing with a priest who previously pleaded no contest to tying up two boys and molesting them. A few years earlier, the cardinal had been named to lead a Vatican office that later, in 2001, took full authority to investigate accusations of sexual abuse.

Pope Benedict’s connection to this and another case raise questions about how seriously the church is taking this scandal. If the pope is viewed as part of the problem, how are parishioners expected to maintain their faith in this institution?

When an organization grows larger than its mission, it loses perspective on who or what it’s supposed to serve. The emphasis shifts to protecting the hierarchy.

When that happens, the occurrence of evil is only a matter of time.

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