Pontifications

Pontifications


The Fall of Rome? NY and sex abuse payouts

posted by David Gibson

St. Patrick's Cathedral.jpgBehind all the justifiable hosannas for Archbishop Timothy Dolan as he prepares to take over as leader of the Archdiocese of New York is a looming financial crisis in the form of a bill in Albany that would lifte the statute of limitations for a year on claims–though only on private institutions like the Catholic Church.

I have a short piece in this week’s New York Magazine about the issue.

Money quote:

“If this legislation passes I might as well give the keys to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the first crooked attorney who walks down Fifth Avenue.” –Cardinal Edwrad Egan.

 



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pagansister

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:07 am


Good, I hope the bill passes…there are probably more victims out there in NY that need to get their head around the abuse they suffered and this will give them more time to come out.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm


If the state legislature is going to pass an honest law, it must be one that opens the public schools to the same level of scrutiny, or else it is a witch hunt. Considering that in US schools, according to the US Department of Education, “nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”*
*Shakeshaft, C, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of the Literature”, U.S. Department of Education, 2004, p26.8
That means 4,704,000 students currently enrolled in public schools nationwide would have cause to bring suit. If one divides that number by thirteen grades, there are 361,846 students in each grade who are or will be victims. If one then multiplies that average number per grade by thirty years, one arrives at 10,855,385 students nationwide who would have cause to file suit against the public schools alone. What’s New York’s share? How interested are the legislators in ALL children abused? Justice or a war against nonprofits?



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MarcM

posted March 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm


“Good, I hope the bill passes…there are probably more victims out there in NY that need to get their head around the abuse they suffered and this will give them more time to come out.”
As do I. The Catholic Church holds itself out as a moral authority, a voice that is present in many debates in our society. As we have seen, this morality is merely a veneer, a cheap covering over a rotting carcass that should make any sincere Christian turn away in disgust.
Yet we continue to get revelations, seemingly every month, of new substantiated allegations against Catholic clergy, whether they be allegations of direct involvement in sexual abuse or indirect cover-up of abusive clergy members. When something is rotten to the core the only way to deal with it is to remove it completely. It is starting to look as if the Catholic church has rot that runs very deep indeed.
Perhaps God is doing as he promised in Revelations…he is preparing to remove the lampstand of this church from its place due to its sin.



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MarcM

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm


“It’s fair to question why the legislators would craft legislation that excludes victims numbering at least in the hundreds of thousands.”
Probably because we hold the church to a higher standard of behavior. I believe such a pattern was suggested by Paul in the writings to Timothy and Titus.
Take your energy and turn it towards your church, Gerard. How much longer will you and your fellow congregants defend such behavior? How much longer will you shield the guilty pedophiles and their protectors from being exposed? How much longer will you enable their behavior?



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Reaganite in NYC

posted March 3, 2009 at 12:46 am


MarcM: “How much longer will you and your fellow congregants defend such behavior? How much longer will you shield the guilty pedophiles and their protectors from being exposed? How much longer will you enable their behavior?”
MarcM, likewise, how long are you going to defend the guilty pedophiles in the public schools and shield them and their taxpayer-funded protectors from being exposed?
The point that Gerard Nadal is making is that the problem is far more widespread in the public schools than in the few broken-down and practically bankrupt Catholic schools that are still standing. Or maybe you really don’t care about pedophile victims — and especially the overwhelming majority that are not found in Catholic circles — and are just looking for an excuse to bash the Catholic Church.



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MarcM

posted March 3, 2009 at 7:41 am


“MarcM, likewise, how long are you going to defend the guilty pedophiles in the public schools and shield them and their taxpayer-funded protectors from being exposed?”
Simple, Reaganite. It wasn’t a public school teacher who took me aside as a youngster and engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with me. It wasn’t the robes of an academic that my abuser wore. It was the robes of a Catholic cleric.
And it wasn’t a public school administrator who told my parents that the Church was looking into the matter once we reported it. It wasn’t a public school superintendent who doubted my honesty when I sat in his office with my parents and described what that “priest” did to me.
Reaganite, Gerard…this blog is about the Catholic Church. Why is it that every time an issue about the behavior of Catholic priests comes up in almost any venue, people like you deflect the criticism by saying “well, they do it too”?
I thought the standard here was Jesus, not the public schools.
You, Reaganite, and you, Gerard, remind me of the bishop who sat behind his big, black, wooden desk and looked down upon me and said, “did he REALLY do all of that, or are you simply making up a story?”
Spend a few Sundays in private worship with a priest, Reaganite, before you decide to tell me I am a hypocrite.



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MarcM

posted March 3, 2009 at 7:59 am


“The point that Gerard Nadal is making is that the problem is far more widespread in the public schools than in the few broken-down and practically bankrupt Catholic schools that are still standing.”
It’s called “obfuscation”, Reaganite. In an attempt to deflect criticism from the actions of people he still (for some reason) respects, he is bringing up an unrelated matter that has little to do with the issue at hand.
This is much like the actions of a five year old, Johnny, who, when caught with his hand the cookie jar says, “but Jimmy did it, too!” The statement may well be accurate, and Jimmy may well be guilty, but it has nothing to do with the actions that Johnny has been accused of (and caught doing). It is not an attempt to honestly help the issue. It is an attempt to deflect blame and redirect the conversation.
I’ve seen it happen often. Priests, bishops, lawyers, judges, and “good catholics” …they all practice it from time to time. Of course, the Church teaches that sin needs to be confessed, that there needs to be full recompense and restoration of the wronged party, and that due penance should be performed by the sinner.
But apparently that only applies to the congregants. The Church, when caught in sin, can turn to secular authorities for protection. They can cite the lapse of the statute of limitations, the privacy laws, or bankruptcy rulings to protect them from having to reveal the true nature of their sin for all to see. They attack those they once victimized, accusing them of fomenting dissent within the church. They chase them away from the Host, refusing communion to them, because they are “disruptive souls needing to right their actions before God.”
These are the people you defend, Reaganite. You and Gerard. These are the people you protect with your deflection of the issue.
God is not mocked. Sin will be revealed. And when you two stand before His throne and He inquires of you concerning this, and how you helped His church deal with sin in its own midst, what will you say?
Will you talk to Him about abuse in public schools?
Will you suggest that the victims were hypocrites?
But I will no longer waste my time with you two. I know your type well. I saw many like you in the past 40+ years.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 3, 2009 at 8:27 am


MarcM,
What was done to you was an abomination. Period. It can never be justified. Period.
In my discussions on these threads, I have never attempted to justify the molestation of children. Quite the opposite. I have always said that in my Church ONE is too many.
On these threads, I point to the hypocrisy of the media in focussing on the Catholic Church exclusively. Yes, I do love my Church for all the good that it does, and I have said that this focus on us has forced a period of much needed antisepsis within the Church.
When the legislature closes its eyes to the nation-wide abuse of public school children that climbs into the tens of millions over a fifty year period, while nationwide approximately eleven thousand credible allegations have been brought against Catholic priests in that same fifty year period, then we have a problem. The exclusive focus on Catholic clergy has blinded our lawmakers to a problem in the public schools that is three orders of magnitude greater.
It isn’t a deflection of responsibility to point this out. Quite the opposite. We already know the problems in the Catholic Church, and I’m glad that it has been aired. But if all we do is focus on Catholicism, we blind ourselves to a far more malignant manifestation of the problem in other quarters.
If the lawmakers will not include the public schools in their legislation for fear that litigation would bankrupt school districts, then it’s open season on children in the public schools.
I’m a father of three small children. I want them safe in Church. I also want them safe everywhere else. I want to know that those who work with my children can be trusted. I agree with you about the reference to Revelation and the Church’s lampstand. Indeed, if we are not faithful to the Lord, if we institutionalize injustice, He WILL remove our lampstand from us. But I believe that about America as well.
Given what you have revealed, your perspective on the Church is very understandable, and I hope that you have been able to heal and find some measure of peace.
God Bless.



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MarcM

posted March 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm


Gerard: “What was done to you was an abomination. Period. It can never be justified. Period. ”
Then quit dissembling and start helping the issue. It does nothing to resolve ANY of the problems in the Catholic church to simply point to other organizations and claim they are just as bad.
“We already know the problems in the Catholic Church, and I’m glad that it has been aired.”
No, as the recent revelations about Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado have shown, we STILL do not know the extent to which these problems have contaminated the church. And they STILL have not been aired fully.
The legislature is acting because the people are tired of the lack of action by the church leadership, Gerard. The church holds itself out as God’s instrument here on earth. It holds itself out as a voice for morality. And yet it continues to cover up the sins of its most trusted members, its clergy.
If people like you would stop the distractions and start questioning the leadership with the same fervor as you defend the chruch against “persecution” then perhaps your statements would be true.
And you wonder why it is that people have a hard time coming forward with accusations against priests who have abused them? Take a look at your own reactions, and the reaction of Reaganite and ask yourselves if you are part of the problem.



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pagansister

posted March 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm


MarcM:
May I ask if you remained in the church after your horrific experience? Obviously you don’t have to answer, but I’m curious. I would think it would be hard to do so. I spent 10 years teaching in an RCC school, 5 year olds, and I know we had rules about being alone with a child…first, try not to be, and 2nd, if you do need to be, then the door(s) must be open at all times.



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MarcM

posted March 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm


“May I ask if you remained in the church after your horrific experience? Obviously you don’t have to answer, but I’m curious.”
No. After our experience with taking our complaint to the Bishop, we left the Catholic church. My parents moved into the Episcopalian church and stayed there until their passing.
As for me, I remain a Christian, but the only time I have been back into a Catholic house of worship was when a dear friend died and I attended his funeral. No nervous experience, no flashbacks…just no desire to sit under the pastoral “care” of a church that was still in deep denial about the rot within it.
I’ve spent much time with the Quakers, and have come to enjoy their unprogrammed meeting style. I’ve also visited with some UCC congregations and other liberal Christian fellowships, but have not put down roots as far as being a member of any church.
When things broke about our local parish and the problems that had gone on under several priests and at least two Bishops, I was contacted by a person from the diocese office. They had gone back through the files and found a copy of a letter my parents had sent. Apparently that was all that survived from the numerous written statements we had given to them.
A gave an affidavit concerning the abuse, but did not join in the civil trial. I do not want money from the church. I want the Church to do what was asked of me any time I sinned against someone as a child. The nun or priest would tell me that I had to go to the person and confess, and seek their forgiveness. I was told it had to be sincere, because God knew what was in our hearts, and would not accept anything but a sincere confession of guilt. I was told that I could not shift blame, that *I* was responsible for *my* actions, and not to be concerned with the actions of others.
Lawsuits have devolved into bankruptcy proceedings as the church hides behind secular judges. Payments are made with no admission of guilt. There are no meetings between church leaders and those who were victimized. New Bishops speak of “putting the past behind us” and “learning to forgive the sins of those from the past”, but there has been no confession of sin, no forgiveness sought, no responsibility taken.
Revelation 2 speaks of the letter to the church in Ephesus, and how if it did not repent of its sin God would remove its lampstand from heaven. I firmly believe that the Catholic church stands as the church of Ephesus today, and we are seeing the decline of the Church as God moves to begin taking the lampstand away from its place. “Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance.”
Penance. Not bankruptcy hearings in secular courts. Not obfuscation of issues by pointing to other organizations and saying “they do it, too.” Not speaking empty words about morality while hiding immoral monsters in its midst. No…penance, at least as I was taught, must accompany a self-acceptance and self-accusation of the sin. In other words, true penance does not mince words, nor does it seek to shift blame.
For years victims followed procedures within the church, reporting abuse to the proper church authorities. For years victims sought justice within the church, not in secular courts. And for years, the Church refused to accept our claims, even when they had evidence supporting those claims already in their files.
Because of this many victims felt that there could be no way to find closure other than to turn to secular courts. I did not choose that route, but I completely understand why others did. If my testimony helped in some small way to provide them with what they needed, I am happy with that.
The Church is using man’s law to protect its money and assets. In doing so it is losing its soul.



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dan

posted March 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm


“It’s fair to question why the legislators would craft legislation that excludes victims numbering at least in the hundreds of thousands.”
Probably because we hold the church to a higher standard of behavior. I believe such a pattern was suggested by Paul in the writings to Timothy and Titus.
**********************************
I don’t think the abuse victims of the public schools are any less deserving of justice (including compensation, counseling or whatever may be appropriate to try to heal wounds that may never be fully healed) than victims of the Catholic Church abuse. The state has no business holding the church to a higher standard. Both the private and public sectors should be accountable in the same manner for these terrible crimes. This law seems to treat one group — perhaps the one with the powerful teachers’ union — with less severity than the other. I am not absolving the Catholic Church — or any Protestant denomination, for that matter — of any wrongdoing. I am merely saying that the victims of abuse by educators and staff in public schools deserve the same opportunity at justice and compensation.
God bless,
Dan



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pagansister

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm


MarcM.
Thank you for your response to my question. I can’t imagine staying in a place that had caused you so much pain. It is obvious you’re not happy with the way the church has handled things, for good reason.
I do admire you for not taking the money. Money can’t really “fix” what victims have gone through. Doesn’t the church think that “confession is good for the soul?”
Thanks again, and perhaps you will find a church home, if indeed you want to. Have you tried a Unitarian church? Married a Unitarian and raised my kids in that church. A suggestion.



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MarcM

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm


“Have you tried a Unitarian church?”
I need more of a Christian framework to my worship than they provide. However, I have worked with many good UUs on social justice issues in the community, mostly with Habitat for Humanity and the local food pantry, but also on some economic justice issues. They are good folks.



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pagansister

posted March 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm


MarcM:
For sure UU’s aren’t for everyone. I agree they are “good folks.”
I wish you the best and hope you find what you are looking for.



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