Scott on February 9, 2006 at 11:01 am
Last Friday, amid all the furor surrounding the whole International Cartoon Crisis, I missed the opportunity to comment on a major Southern California news story.
By the way, how do you like the moniker International Cartoon Crisis? It is my name for the Danish cartoon flap which I plan on licensing as my intellectual property (the name, not the situation).
In the ongoing, nationwide, gut-wrenching, sickening story involving pedophile priests and the Catholic Church that has been covering up for them and dodging responsibility for years, we get this latest news nugget. Cardinal Mahony of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and let the church keep its priests’ personnel records secret and out of the hands of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Mahony claims that if he is forced to turn these personnel records over, it will be a violation of the separation of church and state. Michael Hennigan, attorney for the archdiocese, said:
“What is most important from the perspective of Cardinal Mahony and the archdiocese is the protection of his continued ability to have confidential, and what we call sacred, communication with his priests.”
I’m not Catholic, but I thought that the only sacred/untouchable/inviolate form of communication in the Catholic Church was the sacrament of confession. How did personnel files suddenly end up under that same umbrella? I’m pretty sure that performance reviews, payroll records, transfer orders, and disciplinary notations are not handled in the confines of the confessional.
SACRED is an interesting word. According to Princeton University’s “WordNet” (their online dictionary), sacred is defined as:
adj 1: concerned with religion or religious purposes; “sacred texts”; “sacred rites”; “sacred music” [ant: profane] 2: worthy of respect or dedication; “saw motherhood as woman’s sacred calling” 3: made or declared or believed to be holy; devoted to a deity or some religious ceremony or use; “a consecrated church”; “the sacred mosque”; “sacred elephants”; “sacred bread and wine”; “sanctified wine” [syn: consecrated, sanctified] 4: worthy of religious veneration; “the sacred name of Jesus”; “Jerusalem’s hallowed soil” [syn: hallowed] 5: (often followed by `to’) devoted exclusively to a single use or purpose or person; “a fund sacred to charity”; “a morning hour sacred to study”; “a private office sacred to the President”
I don’t see how personnel matters are covered under this or any other definition of “sacred.” In reality, isn’t this simply another in a LONG list of excuses that the cardinal is trying to use to avoid his own responsibility and the responsibility of the church leadership in allowing the vile, disgusting, evil behavior of these monsters to continue for years under the guise of church piety? The Catholic Church has looked SOOOO bad throughout this whole thing as the story has unfolded over the years. And they continue to look worse and worse.
If I were walking down the street and happened to bump into the Pope, and if he happened to ask me for advice, I would tell him to CLEAN HOUSE!!! Tell all of the Catholic churches everywhere to open their personnel files, stop protecting the sinful, evil, ILLEGAL activity of priests, and cut loose any leadership who knowingly conspired to protect these priests.
YES, by doing this the church will be open to even more lawsuits AND they will stand to lose MASSIVE amounts of money in the form of solid and liquid assets and in the form of tithes that will no longer be given by many members who feel betrayed and may leave the church.
BUT what the church will gain is worth FAR MORE than what it will lose. It will gain back the respect and trust of the world and its members. It will also once again become a relevant spiritual body whose concern is the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the people rather than maintaining its place as a haven and protectorate for the degenerate in its ranks.
Maybe it’s just me, but I would think that a leader in the Church would want to lead by example and provide honest and open discourse on matters of sin, rather than try to cover it up. I would think that cooperation WITH the law rather than working AGAINST the law would be the Christ-like thing to do.
What if it was discovered that a group of priests had been running a drug smuggling operation out of several different churches? In fact, what if it was discovered that they had done this for many years in different churches throughout Southern California? And in the course of the investigation, what if it was discovered that many children had suffered horrible physcial and psychological damage from these drugs and that some had in fact died from overdosing on the same drugs provided to them by these priests? If the D.A. needed personnel files to track the priests’ movements, and to see if their personnel records contained any other information that would help the case against these priests, I believe the church wouldn’t be able to cooperate fast enough. They would be offering personnel files, membership roles, and anything else that was needed by the D.A. to stop the illegal activities and to put these priests away.
So why is the whole pedophile priests scandal any different? Laws were broken. The illegal activities occurred on church grounds, the lives of young children were affected (and destroyed), and the priests responsible were moved from location to location where they could do the same things over and over and over again. And at least in the Los Angeles area, Cardinal Mahony has been right there to obstruct investigations, make up excuses, and provide cover for the church and its priests.
I think the Bible has a name for people who are acting like the cardinal. Jesus identified them as the Pharisees (the leaders of the Jewish religion). He called them “white-washed tombs,” people who appear clean on the outside but are rotting and foul on the inside, people who are far more concerned with the outward appearances than with the real condition of the heart.
If I could be so bold, I would like to give some advice to the Cardinal and his guys â€“ Take some time to do a little reading. Start with the Bible. I’m sure you can find a few copies around the rectory. Open up to the Gospel of Matthew and start reading and end after finishing the Gospel of John. Then hold a press conference and explain to all of us how it is that your actions comport with Jesus’ attitude towards sin.
We’ll be waiting.