Archive for August, 2018

PA Grand Jury Report

August 15, 2018 Leave a comment

What’s being called the largest and most comprehensive report on the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church ever done in the United States was released yesterday by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury.

Over 300 priests were named as child predators. It would have been more but the report only deals with 6 of the state’s 8 dioceses. The abuse goes back 70 years.

I know 4 of the names.

One was my church’s pastor as a child (his crimes are redacted in the report, for which I almost feel gratitude). Another was principal of a school where I coached basketball for a year. The school my niece and nephew’s were in at the time.

Bishop Timlin is a friend of our family. He gave last rights to both my Mother and Father, and visited them daily in hospice. For days and even weeks. I’ll never forget his support to us during these times. He seemed graceful, elegant, statuesque, on a different spiritual plane than the rest of us. I can’t explain it, so I won’t try. It’s the power of the trappings of organized religion. I’d shunned Catholic dogma years before and become a proud atheist, but even I wasn’t immune. I told him how much it meant to me that he was there. And I meant it.

And now, this. To read that this man was no better than the near-caricatures I’d read about in Boston and elsewhere. A man who facilitated the sexual abuse of children by covering up crimes, paying off accusers, and shuffling sexual predators off to unsuspecting parishes, where they inevitably abused again. He showed a shocking disregard for victims, and a stunning empathy for the monsters he was attempting to control under a cloak of secrecy. It was either the personification of the banality of evil, or the comprehension level of a 2nd grader. What mattered most, always, was the reputation of the Church.

That reputation had largely been shattered in 2002 when the abuse scandal broke in Boston….tempered somewhat recently by a new, somewhat progressive (for a Pope…) Pope. But this report makes Boston look like a blip on the radar…..and Pope Francis has thus far remained silent on the findings. More and more it appears that Francis is sitting atop one of the largest child abuse rings in human history, which doesn’t bode well for next Sunday’s collection plate. Or his legacy. The scandal already sent Benedict off like a scalded dog…so there’s that.

What if a similar report is done in New York? In California? In Texas? What might we see there? It’s pretty clear that our state is not the exception. It’s the rule. When you peel the layers away from the organized church, what’s underneath is like a termite infested basement.

How exactly do you spin a priest forcing a small boy to act out the crucifixion in the nude while priests took pictures?

Or the priest who finally quit after years of abusing children. He asked for, and received, a letter of recommendation for his new job. At Disney World.

Whatever moral authority the Catholic Church had is long gone…and all that’s left is the rituals and fear-mongering and the tax-exempt status.

And once again it’s men who’ve done this. Mostly old conservative white men. Men with ghastly senses of entitlement driven into them like nails, and fearing all things female, modern, and non-traditional.

Some of these men I still trusted, and I can’t explain why.

I’m just glad my Mother and Father passed before this. It would have shattered them.

It shattered me.

Yet again, men put in positions of obscene authority are caught behaving obscenely. I wonder if there is a correlation?

Read the report. All of it. Then make up your own mind.

In a bit..


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