Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Allegations, Priests, and My Take

Misbehaving priests are in the news again. This time in connection with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

So far, the situation in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is following a pattern we've seen before. Too many times.
  • Allegations of abuse are made
  • Some are false
  • Some are true
Investigations of abuse are still going on in the Philadelphia archdiocese: but it's likely enough that at least some will prove to be true. If or when that happens, the archdiocese will assume responsibility for the actions of errant priests, and make reparations.

I think the odds are that isn't how the story will be spun in traditional American news: but that, in essence, is what I expect.

I also expect that there will be the usual emotional outbursts, claims that the entire Catholic Church is always shielding child abusers: all the usual routine.

Do I think there were instances when individuals or groups within Church leadership decided to try suppressing complaints of abuse? Yes.

Do I think it was right to try suppressing those complaints? Certainly not. That was morally reprehensible. The attempted cover-ups may have done more damage to the Catholic Church's reputation than the original offenses.

Do I think that the whole Catholic Church is evil, in league with Satan, or bent on the destruction of the ozone layer? No.

Have I discussed this sort of thing before? Yes:
"Not Saying the Culturally-Normative Things About Pedophile Priests"
(April 2, 2010)

"That prolific correspondent, Anonymous, left a comment on a recent post: one dealing with The New York Times' handling of the "actual EVIL perpetrated by representatives of the Catholic Church". Here's the comment, in full:
" 'I came across your webpage, and wonder if you'll ever comment about the actual EVIL perpetrated by representatives of the Catholic Church, or admit and hold accountable the MANY bishops and cardinals who PURPOSELY transferred the trash who violated all of these young CHILDREN?

" 'Notice the CAPITALIZED words; I followed your style of highlighting text that you thought readers might miss.

" 'Are you apologizing or rationalizing the investigations by the NYT? Yes, the press is one of the most important aspects of our culture and society, and without it challenging every part of our protected icons- political or religious, we are without a voice.

" 'Don't like it? Leave- and move to the Vatican City. Have a nice bunk mate while you're at it.

" 'I hope that il papa gets dethroned and defrocked for his misdoing and I hope that every single priest that is part of these coverups burns in hell AND EARTH.' "
"Although I agree that evil has been done, I cannot wish that anyone "burns in hell" - out of simple prudence, if nothing else.
(More in "Hating People: Not a Good Idea" (January 22, 2010))
(And see Matthew 7:1-2, John 8:7)

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: My Take on Accusations and Investigation

I live several states over from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: and have no personal connection with the situation there. For which I'm duly grateful.

Excerpts from one article on the allegations, and my reactions, follow. I recommend following the link and reading the entire article.
"Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has placed 21 priests in the archdiocese on administrative leave, following investigations into a grand jury report that there were credible abuse allegations against the clergy members....

"...The grand jury report - issued on Feb. 10 - charged that there were 37 archdiocesan priests still in ministry who had credible allegations of abuse against them but were still in roles that brought them into contact with children....

"...Within a week of the release of the grand jury report last month, the archdiocese hired Gina Maisto Smith, a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney who has prosecuted child sexual assault cases for nearly two decades. Smith, a partner at the law firm of Ballard Spahr, conducted an initial review of all 37 cases....
(CNA (Catholic News Agency))
So far, so good. It looks like the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is being smart: Those allegations won't go away, and if any of them are true, it's a situation that has to be dealt with.

The Catholic News Agency actually is 'Catholic,' which I think helps explain why the article sticks to the matter at hand in the archdiocese. There's a fair amount of detail to wade through, as it is.

Those two words - "credible allegations" - are, I think, important.

The first, "credible," means "believable" in this context. In other words, there are 37 instances where there apparently was reason to believe that a priest associated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had abused someone.

That's serious, of course - but I think it's well to remember that not everybody who complains about mistreatment is giving an accurate statement. Does that mean that I hate rape victims, and never believe anything that children say? No, certainly not. It does mean that I recognize that it's possible for a person to make a statement that's not accurate.

The second, "allegation," has two related meanings in this context:
  • (Law) a formal accusation against somebody (often in a court of law)
  • Statements affirming or denying certain matters of fact that you are prepared to prove
    (Princeton's WordNet)
Allegations may be true. Or, not.

There's a principle that makes American law a little odd, compared to many other systems. It's that corny old 'innocent until proven guilty.'

Does that mean I assume that all priests are completely innocent and can't possibly be guilty of anything? Of course not. But I do know the difference between an allegation and a proven fact.

Back to the article.
"...After Smith conducted her review, Cardinal Rigali announced on March 8 that 21 of the 37 priests referenced in the report have been placed on administrative leave.

"The Philadelphia Archdiocese reported that of the 16 remaining priests who were not placed on leave, eight were cleared and did not warrant further investigation.

"Of the remaining eight priests, three had previously been placed on leave in earlier weeks, two now serve in religious orders outside the archdiocese and two are incapacitated to serve and are no longer in active ministry.

"Cardinal Rigali said that now that Smith's initial examination has concluded, 'I have accepted her initial recommendations.'

"The next step will involve Smith and a team of experts – including pediatricians, forensic psychiatrists, psychologists, and child advocacy workers – investigating the cases more thoroughly.

"Cardinal Rigali underscored that the move to put the 21 priests on administrative leave serves as an 'interim' measure, and not a final determination or judgment.

" 'I know that for many people their trust in the Church has been shaken,' he added. 'I pray that the efforts of the archdiocese to address these cases of concern and to re-evaluate our way of handling allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.'..."
As I said before, I'm not personally involved in the Philadelphia mess. If I was, I'm sure I'd be upset. I hope that I'd also recognize that there's good reason to think that a methodical investigation is going on.

One problem with methodical investigations is that they take time. Occasionally quite a bit of time. And there often isn't any emotionally satisfying drama involved.

The lack of histrionics doesn't, I think, mean that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's leaders don't care:
"...'As we strive to move forward today,' Cardinal Rigali said, 'I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the Church, especially clergy. I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime.' "
Just being sorry won't cut it, of course, there have to be reparations. If any of the allegations are true, and the Philadelphia situation follows the patter we've seen elsewhere in America, the archdiocese will make reparations in party by giving money to the victims, or the victims' agents.

Maybe that sounds cold: but it's the way American culture in the early 21st century works.

As for the churches and other property that may have to be sold, to raise the sums required - well, that's another topic.

Just "Sorry" isn't Good Enough

This may seem harsh, but it doesn't look like just saying "I'm sorry" is enough to clean up the mess left by sin. It's a start: but if I took someone's car and wrecked it, saying "I'm sorry" wouldn't be very convincing. Unless I followed the admission of guilt and apology with an offer to repair or replace the car.

Not that I'm going to commit grand theft, auto.

The same principle applies in other cases when harm has been done to another. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1491, 2409, 2412, 2487, for starters.)

Remember though, I'm just "some guy with a blog." I recommend following those links and seeing what the Catechism has to say.

Related posts:
In the news:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.