Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Corrupt bishops

Corrupt Bishops?
By Marty Rethul 14 Comments
Categories: Being Frank...
In recent weeks here at Being Frank there has been intense debate about Ecclesial abuse: liturgical and sexual; and sometimes things have got heated.

There has been some strong discussion (from both sides) regarding the causes, the influences, the negligence, the faults, and the possible steps forward to help heal these terrible crimes and sins which have done so much damage to innocent people (esp. children), to the Body of Christ, to the reputation of the priesthood, and to the Church in general.

In the process of these discussions sometimes it can seem that some of us Catholics want to sweep these things away and not deal with them properly; or that some don’t take what has happened seriously enough. I hope that we all can agree that those who are guilty, the sexual predators and those who covered it up, are responsible for incredible suffering and serious crimes and that they should be held responsible and brought to justice, through proper and authentic investigation, and through the civil courts.

One piece of quite interesting news, and cause of hope, is the recent public act of repentance undertaken by the Irish Bishops in the Cathedral of Dublin. I think this is a good first step, manifesting a true spirit of recognition of guilt, and an intention to begin to do something concrete in order to repair the harm done.





Then several days ago, it has come out that 21 priests from Philadelphia have been suspended, pending investigation of serious abuse allegations against them. These allegations go back some way, and ALL these priests remained in active ministry. They had been moved on and on to new parish assignments to avoid facing action.


This raises an obvious question.

Why have the American Bishops not made similar Christ-like and human gestures? Why have they not publicly asked for forgiveness? Why no public gestures of humility, of penance, of reparation from the American bishops? Why is it that they blamed everything (and everybody) else in their investigations and reports, but couldn’t look at themselves?

They couldn’t admit they messed up. Why no fraternal correction among the American bishops?

Why? Because there is corruption in the American church, especially in certain areas of the Episcopacy. And it continues to this day.

If one looks at the stats around the bishops involvement in the American abuse crisis it is clear that many were at fault, yet they themselves and their brother bishops couldn’t say anything about their own responsibility in the crimes, and couldn’t publicly own up. This Philadelphia episode is a classic example of keeping things hidden – again – and no real honesty, integrity, reform, conversion, or change. Go to http://bishopaccountability.org/ and have a look.

There is something quite sick in such deficiencies which manifests deep down a real spiritual sickness, corruption, and pride. And behind it all is the devil.

Apparently when the ‘Charter on Abuse’ was written in Dallas by the American Bishops Conference (in response to the scandals), they suggested procedural changes and new protections and norms for everybody else, except themselves. They couldn’t seem to see that they were a big part of the problem. Does that sound corrupt to you? Blind to you?

It is because of this attitude from the American bishops that true deep healing will not truly be allowed to begin in the USA, and it is because of the ‘cover-up’, ‘media-management’, ‘contain it at all costs’ attitude, that men like Catholic lawyer Seth Williams have had to step in and make sure that they are held accountable. Williams is going after guilty American priests, monsignors, bishops, and others, to bring them to justice, so that they have to account for their actions, and negligence, to make just temporal reparation, one way or another. Read this little article about this guy and how he is trying to help victims, and make sure that justice is done.


Here is a snippet:

For Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, leading the sex abuse prosecution that has roiled this city’s Catholic community is not an attack on the church in which he was raised, and to which he remains deeply committed. But the Philadelphia native says he is determined to bring to justice the ‘evil’ clergy his office accuses of harming children.

I tell people that this is not about the Catholic Church. I love my church said Williams in an interview. This is not…some form of Catholic-bashing. This is about evil men being held accountable for their evil behaviour.

Some people have voiced concern in recent weeks about a certain ‘tone’ and ‘attitude’ which exists here at Being Frank, and which is sometimes directed at bishops – as if some of us here lack respect for them. When one sees that some bishops have managed to get off scot-free due to a clericalism (abuse of the office, and an expectation of obedience to any directive), I think that we can all understand that people get frustrated and angry, and lose respect for them. It’s their own fault. This applies not only to the lack of love manifested in the terms of the sexual abuse crisis, but also to the lack of love in terms of the liturgical abuse crisis. Just a few days ago Cdl. Burke and Cdl. Canizares said that liturgical abuses weaken people’s faith, just like sexual abuse wrecks people’s faith.

They must surely understand this themselves. In some ways the bishops have brought this angry reaction upon themselves by never actually looking to be proactive in sexual abuse matters and in liturgical abuse matters.

People write to them and say ‘My son is being abused, please look into it’, and they move the abuser onto to another parish where he can abuse others, and nothing happens (this happened so many times in the USA that it manifested a real active policy of cover-up); or they write in and say, ‘Jesus is being spiritually molested in my parish. Please do something about it’, and they turn a blind eye, tell themselves that this person is legalistic, and move onto the next issue in their inbox. Corrupt. Incapable of addressing real problems in their dioceses, and considering reform.

In all these Charters, dream sequences and other such documents that get written by bishops around the world, I wonder how many have been written about the spiritual abuse of good Catholics who have to suffer abusive and deforming liturgy and sacraments? Or who have to suffer abuse from terrible education in Catholic schools?

Not to mention the abuse Jesus has to endure in His Sacramental Presence.


Perhaps it is now time for the bishops to sit down and write the Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament, so that He is no longer spiritually molested in His sacramental Presence by people who should know what mortal sin is, by people who should not be receiving Him sacrilegiously while the clergy look on and applaud.

I remember years ago reading something about St Escriva (the saint who founded Opus Dei). Someone had recounted to him and his confreres the story of some public news item about a Catholic guy who had spent his life in terrible sin, and one of the confreres said ‘Poor guy’, to which St Escriva responded ‘Poor God’.

I wonder whether we have lost our sense of God and this is why we can’t respond properly to these abuses? I wonder whether bishops have a gaze on these problems which are too political, or administrative, or purely human, and not Divine and spiritual enough?

Good on the Irish bishops for making Christ-like and divine gestures of washing the feet of victims. May it go on from there, and may many other bishops grow in humility in order to publicly admit their fault, negligence, and wrong doing, both in terms in sexual and sacramental abuse, and publicly ask forgiveness of Christ and their brothers and sisters in the Lord.

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