What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 15, 2011

No Aspersions, No Allegations

There are times when I have to tip my hat to the editorial board at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. There are days when they get it right.

Like today:
Grand jury accusations that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia failed to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after another grand jury documented the abuse by more than 50 priests begs another question:

Did the same thing happen in Pittsburgh?

We are forced to ask this most difficult question given that the Philly grand jury directly implicates Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who stepped down as the prelate of the Philadelphia archdiocese in 2003 and is the former bishop of Pittsburgh.

The grand jury said it "reluctantly" decided to not file charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua because it did not have enough evidence. But he is accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without divulging prior sexual-abuse allegations.

Did the same thing happen under Bevilacqua's watch in the Diocese of Pittsburgh between 1983 and 1987? It is an eminently fair question given the alleged audacity of the inaction in the Philadelphia cases.

Bevilacqua now is 87 and said to be suffering from cancer and dementia. But that should not preclude an independent and outside review of all allegations of sexual abuse against priests during his Pittsburgh tenure.

We cast no aspersions. We make no allegations. But given the facts as the Philadelphia grand jury has presented them, those in the Pittsburgh diocese deserve no less.K
Minor quibble: I would spend less time with the "Pittsburgh Connection" and more time on the bigger picture (the allegation that The Church in the State of Pennsylvania covered up the rape and torture of children). Unfortunately the local news media just generally spends too much time looking for the "Pittsburgh Connection" in too many stories, not just this one. Minor quibble. Moving on.

The AP has some details:
Nearly a decade after the scandal over sexual abuse by priests erupted, Philadelphia's district attorney has taken a step no prosecutor in the United States had taken before: filing criminal charges against a high-ranking Roman Catholic official for allegedly failing to protect children.
[District Attorney Seth] Williams announced charges Thursday against three priests, a parochial school teacher and Monsignor William J. Lynn, who, as secretary of the clergy, was one of the top officials in the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1992 to 2004.

The three priests and the teacher were charged with raping boys. Monsignor Lynn, 60, was accused not of molesting children, but instead of endangering them. A damning grand jury report said at least two boys were sexually assaulted because he installed two known pedophiles in posts where they had contact with youngsters.
And Reuters has news of a lawsuit:
The Archbishop of Philadelphia and his predecessor were accused on Monday in a civil lawsuit of endangering children by concealing the identity and sexual abuse of predatory priests from law enforcement to save the church from a costly scandal.

Among the seven people and three institutions named in the lawsuit filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia were the current Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, his predecessor Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor William Lynn, the Rev. Richard Cochrane and Martin Satchell, who has left the priesthood.

"John Doe 10," an anonymous 28-year-old man who allegedly suffered two periods of abuse by clergymen, filed the lawsuit and is seeking more than $50,000, which would trigger a jury trial. The victim alleges that as a young Catholic school student he was abused during second or third grade and again during his high school freshman year, when he sought counseling about the earlier abuse. The lawsuit names Satchell and Cochrane as his abusers.

The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese, the sixth largest in the United States with 1.5 million Catholics, of implementing "programs and procedures that were misrepresented to the public as providing help to victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, but were instead maliciously used to develop information to protect the Archdiocese."
These are still only allegations, of course. But it's not like the Church hasn't already committed similar atrocities elsewhere across the planet.

So I'll say it again. Given the Church's atrocious behavior protecting it's priesthood, why should we spend pay any attention to any statement of sexual morality from the Roman Catholic Church?

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