You Made Your Choice Mr Archbishop. It’s a Done Deal.

Deacon Greg, as usual, has the story.

So, there’s this Archbishop in St Louis who is accused of the same old enabling of child sex abuse by a priest stuff we’ve gotten to know too well. Mr Archbishop gave a deposition about these accusations.

In that deposition, he did the lawyered-up, don’t-give-them-anything di-doh. It was a masterful performance of I don’t know nothin, sung to the tune of I Can’t Remember.

The all-time show-stopper was when the attorney asked Mr Archbishop if he knew that the act of an adult having sex with a child was a crime back when all this was going on. “I’m not sure if I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it was a crime,” Mr Archbishop answered. The look on his face while he said it was classic the-dog-ate-my-homework.

The attorney pursued it, and the Archbishop kept right on lying.

If you’ve got the stomach for it, have a look.

YouTube Preview Image

I didn’t write about this when I first saw it because, to be honest, it made me sick. I felt so sad. Bereft, almost. I had nothing to say. I just wanted to go away from this and not deal with it.

Then, just to make sure that nobody ever believes him again, the Archbishop started the second quadrille to his little dance. Deacon Greg covered it. Mr Archbishop had the St Louis Archdiocese release another the-dog-ate-my-homework statement.

This time, it was a totally idiotic accusation that inaccurate and misleading reporting “has impugned Archbishop Carlson’s good name and reputation.” This was so daft it made me question if they knew that there was a video of the deposition out there on YouTube.

The letter goes on. But it doesn’t matter. We have the video.

Now Mr Archbishop has released a letter over his own signature. He also put up a video of himself, reading the letter. I see no point in going over what he said, since he essentially didn’t say anything. It was just typical I-wuz-robbed boilerplate.

The reason I’m finally writing about this today is simple. I want to tell the Archbishop something that he doesn’t seem to get: You made your choice.

I understand that the wise person takes their attorney’s advice when they testify. I also understand that we have a thing called the Fifth Amendment to protect people in situations like this. I further understand that an attorney who deliberately counseled a client to lie under oath would be guilty of subornation of perjury.

So, I rather doubt that your attorney, Mr Archbishop, told you to do this. Not in so many words. They may have said something like, don’t conjecture unless you remember precisely. It’s best to say, “I don’t know” unless you are absolutely certain. But I doubt very much that your attorney counseled you to go out there and lie under oath.

Testifying under oath is a scary deal for most of us and testifying on something like this, where you flat out know your are wrong, must be a real horror.

Fair enough.

But you jumped the shark on this one. And there’s no turning back. It’s a done deal. And you — and every other Catholic in the world — is going to have to live with it.

It all began with enabling priests to sexually abuse children, you know. That is so egregious that nobody, and I mean nobody except maybe your mother, is going to buy the idea that it was anything but an absolute violation of your priesthood.

That’s what got this started. And it wasn’t just you, Mr Archbishop. It was a lot of your colleagues. It was rife. It was what might be called a practice.

Fortunately, I personally know a bishop who called the authorities at the first step. I am grateful to him beyond words for having done that. It gives me hope about our leadership.

But it appears that you, Mr Archbishop, did not make that stand-up choice. Which leads to the point.

It was, is and always has been, on you.

You made your choice then. You made your choice at that deposition.

When, if ever, are you going to stop trying to deny it?

You. Did. Wrong.

As a wrong-doer myself, I can forgive that. I also understand that no matter what any of us has done, we still don’t want to pay the price. There is nothing so terrifying as getting caught in your own dirt. We all want to run. I know. I’ve done my share of running away in my life.

Forgiveness comes easy from someone like me. I’ve done so much, had so much done to me, and been forgiven so much, how could it be otherwise?

I think I can forgive just about anything. All you’ve gotta do is tell me you’re sorry. But you, Mr Archbishop, are not asking for forgiveness. If you’re sorry, it looks like what you’re sorry about is getting caught.

As a Catholic who is trying to follow her Church, who actually wants to believe you, I am beaten.

I can’t believe you. I don’t. I can’t follow you. I won’t.

You made your choice, Mr Archbishop. It’s a done deal.

 

For another take on this, check out Frank Weathers.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Bishops in Disgrace and Whither the Church is Tending

 

The so-called Bishop of Bling, Bishop Frantz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, has been suspended for what may prove to be misappropriation of funds.

The charges against him are basically that he has been living large off monies that should have gone to Church ministries.

Other bishops find themselves in situations like that of Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis. This bishop is in trouble for failure to remove priests with pedophile problems from active ministry.

While the charges against both these bishops are serious, I don’t feel nearly as strongly about the things Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is accused of doing as those that Archbishop Nienstedt may have done. I am, as I said yesterday, out of patience with the refusal by some bishops to do their jobs vis a vis the clergy child sex abuse scandal.

Both these situations highlight a simple fact: The Church’s way of dealing with the public failings of its bishops is going to have to change.

The era of ignoring things is over. The reason it is over is that the world has changed. We live in an age where I can sit in Oklahoma and learn about the missteps of a German bishop right along with the people in his diocese. I know about what is happening in Minnesota as soon as the Minnesotans know.

More than that, I learn about these things in an immediate way that makes me feel as if I am one of the parishioners in Minnesota or Germany, that this is my problem, as well as theirs.

Unfortunately, vendetta-inspired lies and smears transmit with the same speed as facts. Different pressure groups, particularly gay marriage advocates, have used this ability to communicate at internet speed to punish, coerce and just plain injure those who disagree with them.

Not only do we live in a world of instant communication, we also live in a world of self-entitled people who think that whatever they want is a moral imperative that justifies whatever they do to get it.

What this means for bishops of the Church is that they are often the targets of vendetta-motivated smear campaigns. The bishops who speak out strongly for Church teaching against the forces that want to oppose that teaching are the most viciously targeted.

Since bishops are human beings with human failings, there will always be things about them to criticize. Not one person on this planet can survive this kind of malicious scrutiny intact. We’ve all done something or other. Most of us have done lots of somethings or other, that would look gross when they are put in the worst possible light and flung out on the internet by those who hate us and are motivated to destroy our reputations.

The question for the Church is when to stand by a bishop in disgrace, and when to remove him.

This is not a small question. If the Church allows public witch hunts to provoke it into removing bishops, then it will destroy its own strength of witness in the world. On the other hand, if it leaves truly disgraceful bishops in place, it will — once again — destroy its witness in the world.

I don’t have to make these decisions, and I’m glad I don’t. However, I do have one opinion.

The sexual abuse of children by clergy has got to stop.

Period.

No arguments.

No discussions.

It has to stop.

I understand that charges like this are sometimes flung against priests falsely. I also understand that each priest functions more or less independently most of the time, which means that bishops don’t know all that they are doing.

But when a bishop is given credible information that makes it seem likely that a priest is engaging in kiddie porn or other improper behavior with and about children, that bishop needs to act immediately. It is not necessary to ascertain if the evidence will stand up in a court of law. The safety of children demands that if the evidence is credible — as opposed to baseless vicious gossip — the bishop has to remove that priest from active ministry.

I’ve read several reports now of people within a diocese sending a bishop clear evidence of priests having salacious photos of children on their computers and the bishop brushing it off. This has happened with different bishops in different states. We’ve had to deal with a bishop in New Jersey who allowed a priest who had been convicted of child sex abuse to go back into ministry with children.

If the bishops will not remove priests who have these problems from active ministry, then the bishops themselves need to be removed.

The safety of our children and the integrity of the Church depend on it.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

I Can Never Undo What Happened to Those Boys says Church Whistleblower

 

I can never undo what happened to those boys, and that hangs incredibly heavy on me, says Jennifer Haselberger.

That is evidently the motivation that led Ms Haselberger, who is the former chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis, to turn whistle-blower against her employer.

Ms Haselberger found what she describes as child pornography on the computer disks of a priest who is still in active ministry. She resigned her position with the archdiocese after her attempts to get action concerning this priest from her boss, Archbishop John Nienstedt, failed.

Personally, I am all out of patience with the bishops who do this. When a bishop’s response to photos from a priest’s computer of a child engaging in sexual acts is to confiscate the evidence and refuse to act, there’s something wrong with that bishop as a man and a human being. That kind of behavior is also, at least here in Oklahoma, a felony, with serious jail time attached to it.

These bishops who do this are not following Jesus. Followers of Christ do what Ms Haselberger did and defend children from sexual assault, regardless of the cost to themselves.

This set-in-concrete, stubborn refusal to defend little children from sexual assault by at least some of the bishops makes no sense. They are contributing to the scandal which has so greatly damaged the Church’s moral witness in these perilous times. They even set themselves up for criminal prosecution.

This isn’t a lapse in either judgement or morals. It’s gone on too long for it to be a lapse of any sort.

Why do they keep doing this?

What is wrong with these men?

From Minnesota Public Radio:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The church lawyer turned whistleblower at the center of a series of investigative reports involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was described glowingly as “studious, thoughtful and extremely well prepared” by the archbishop who hired her in 2008.

As of last week, a lawyer for the archdiocese was referring to her as a disgruntled former employee.

Jennifer Haselberger, who left her position as chancellor for canonical affairs last April, was appointed to the post in August 2008 by Archbishop John Nienstedt. She resigned four and a half years later after a series of unsuccessful attempts to get her superiors to take action on problem priests.

One of those efforts, which she later described as the “nuclear option,” involved copying pornographic images that had been found on a priest’s computer onto a word document and sending them to the archbishop. Some of the images, she said, appeared to show boys engaged in sexual acts.

After Nienstedt failed to call the police, his deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, ordered Haselberger to hand over the images. She did so, she said — and called Ramsey County authorities. She also contacted MPR News.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Mama Bear and Archbishop Myers

Threaten my kids and you’ll meet a she-bear on the attack.

I feel much the same way about my Church.

Disparage Jesus and see how I respond.

There are just certain things that get my attack-defend side moving.

Archbishop Myers has managed to step on just about every attack-defend nerve I’ve got. He put a confessed, convicted child sex abuser back with kids. Then he defended the action by claiming he didn’t violate the rules that the bishops have for handling these things.

Bah.

I am the mother of sons. The thought of someone endangering one of them like this has me ready to charge out and do battle.

I love the Catholic Church with all my heart. I am so grateful to the bishops for standing up against the destruction of traditional Christian morality in our society. I would follow them anywhere in this fight.

But with friends like Archbishop Myers, who needs enemies? Actions like his cut the moral ground out from under his brother bishops and make it difficult for any of us to defend the Church in the public square.

As for disparaging Jesus, when a shepherd of the flock opens the gate and allows the wolf in with the lambs and then claims he didn’t do anything wrong … what do you call it?

I am also a public official. I am responsible for other people’s lives. That doesn’t make me more sympathetic with the Archbishop. It makes me less so.

This wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t something where he didn’t know or the “experts” told him it would be ok. It didn’t happen back in some long ago past when people supposedly didn’t know that molesting children was wrong. (When was the time, anyway? I’m no kid, but I don’t remember it.)

This is now, after more than 10 years of constant talk about the “problem” of bishops putting child abusers with children. It comes after the apologies, after the reforms, after the promises of never again. The priest in question isn’t someone that was newly discovered to be a child abuser. He’s a confessed, convicted child abuser who was, essentially, remanded to the archbishop’s custody.

Is there some fact here I’ve got wrong? Is there some exculpatory bit of evidence I don’t know about?

If there’s not, then what the tom fool was Archbishop Myers playing at? Why, why, why did he do this incredibly stupid, destructive and potentially catastrophic thing to the children that God has entrusted to his care?

Why did he place his Church on the chopping block again? Why did he pull the rug out from under his brother bishops’ feet with actions he knew would get them all tarred with the same ugly brush?

Sending a confessed, convicted child molester back to ministry with children makes as much sense as giving an embezzler a job in a bank or sending an alcoholic to work in a liquor store. If his goal to was help Father Fugee, he should have done everything he could to keep him away from young people. Surely there was a back room job counting beans somewhere he could have found for him.

I could go on.

And on.

But there’s no point. We’ve all got the weary task of once again trying to clean up the mess this Archbishop has made. It’s hard work, reminding people over and over again that Jesus condemns this, and that the Church is still true, even if her ministers sometimes trip and fall.

One bishop who does something like this does so much harm. The damage — to individuals, to the Church’s witness to Christ — is incalculable.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X