Showing posts with label cover-up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cover-up. Show all posts

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Several nights ago, I watched the film Spotlight, which was riveting and all around excellent.  The movie earned its well-deserved Academy awards in Best Picture and Best Screen Play categories.  Though I followed the story of child abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston in the newspaper from the beginning, the story as told from the point of view of the newspaper reporters and editors kept me in full suspense mode throughout.  I'd be hard put to single out particular actors for fine performances, because the principals were all outstanding.

The child abuse scandals in Louisiana broke earlier than the Boston scandal, but there was only spotty coverage by the national media.  South Louisiana is heavily Roman Catholic, and I now realize how courageous the reporters and editors in the local newspapers, the Daily Comet and the Houma Courier, were in publishing their stories.  No doubt, they took a great deal of heat from diocesan leaders and lawyers at the time.

The Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux is small, and I knew some of the people involved.  When I learned of the child abuse, the hush money paid to victims, and the attempts to cover up by supposedly moral and psychologically sound leaders, I left the church at age 60.  Though my alliance with the church had been uneasy for quite a while, my decision to completely break the ties was difficult.

Night before last, I watched Spotlight again before I sent the DVD back to Netflix. I wanted to enjoy the fine artistry on display in the film without being overwhelmed by suspense.  Upon seeing the movie the second time, I remembered the light-bulb moment when, after hearing the stories about more than one priest in more than one diocese in Louisiana, I concluded that the abusive priests didn't simply slip through the cracks, but that the actual policy of the church was to shift abusive priests from parish to parish, perhaps after a leave of absence, where the abusive behavior continued in their new placements.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Pope Benedict XVI's abrupt resignation on Monday heralds the end of a sad and storm-tossed seven-year papacy.

The former Joseph Ratzinger came to the highest office in the Roman Catholic church with a reputation as a challenging, conservative intellectual. But the messages he sought to convey were all but drowned out, first by a string of controversies that were largely of his making, and subsequently by the outcry – particularly in Europe – over sexual abuse of young people by Catholic clerics.
So far as I can remember, child abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church were first revealed in south Louisiana even earlier than the exposure in the Archdiocese of Boston, but the national media gave the story little attention. I suppose the newspeople thought the abuse was confined to the backward crazies in the Dioceses of Lafayette and Houma/Thibodaux in Louisiana. I left the church, not only due to the many instances of child abuse, but especially because of the cover-up. If the matter of child abuse had been handled properly from the beginning, the RCC would have saved itself a load of grief.  The Diocese of Houma/Thibodaux is small, and I knew too much about the cover-up and paying victims to keep silent be able to stay in the church in good conscience.  Since then, I have not looked back, for if I had not left in 1996, the more recent actions and words of the leadership of the RCC would have caused me to make my departure many times over.

Having said that, I am shocked at the resignation. John Paul II carried on long past the time he should have stepped down, and I thought Benedict would do the same.  Popes don't resign; it's been a long, long time - 600 years - since a pope did so.

One of Benedict's goals was to re-evangelize Europe.  We see how well that worked out.  Since the two popes, John Paul II and Benedict, served respectively for 27 and 7 years, each had many opportunities to appoint cardinals of the conservative persuasion, therefore I do not expect the next pope will be a flaming liberal.  In fact, if the successor turns out to be a moderate, I will be greatly surprised.  But then, God often surprises us, so we shall see.

Update from MuckRack: The journalist who scooped all the reporters on the story, Giovanna Chirri, a reporter for Italy's ANSA news agency, heard the pope's announcement of his resignation in Latin and understood what he said, which shows that Latin is not a completely dead language.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


With respect to the alleged continuing cover-up of child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, the hierarchy seems to fear that acceptance of their own humanity and full admission of responsibility for their mistakes in response to child abuse will result in the collapse of the entire edifice of their church.

(Thanks to Wade, who inspired the thought by his words in an email.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


From CNN:

Twenty-one priests have been placed on administrative leave following a review of suspected child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia, according to a statement from the city's archbishop.

The church investigated 37 priests identified in a grand jury report as remaining in "active ministry with credible allegations of child sexual abuse," according to Cardinal Justin Rigali.

In addition to the 21 announced Tuesday, three other priests have already been placed on administrative leave after the report was released in February, Rigali said.

Last week, three Philadelphia priests and a parochial school teacher were charged with raping and assaulting boys in their care, while a former official with the Philadelphia Archdiocese was accused of allowing the abusive priests to have access to children, the city's district attorney's office said.

CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen said the charges against the former church official appeared to be unprecedented and could have national implications.

Monsignor William Lynn, who served as the secretary for clergy for the under then-Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults, Williams said.

The church investigated after the names of the priests were released in a grand jury report. And before the report from the grand jury, did the church know nothing of the allegations against the priests?
The grand jury believed that more than 30 priests have remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite solid, credible allegations of abuse, Williams said.

Rigali had initially challenged that claim.

The charges against the three priests are sickening to read. And finally someone who participated in an alleged cover-up is charged. It's about time! It's way past time! I'd imagine that right about now, a number of people who participated in cover-ups around the country are running scared.

What led me to leave the Roman Catholic Church was not the crimes of abuse, horrific as they were and are, but the cover-up by presumably sane leaders who believed protecting the institution from scandal was more important than protecting innocent children and teenagers. And it seems the necessary lessons have not yet been learned even today, which nearly makes my head explode.

Lord, have mercy.

H/T to Ann Fontaine at The Lead for the link.