What to make of this?

R. Seth Williams… is the first U.S. prosecutor to charge a church official for a sickeningly commonplace sin: Endangering children whom the Roman Catholic Church was supposed to protect by shuffling pedophile priests to different parishes where they could find fresh prey.

This is from Maureen Dowd’s op-ed piece in today’s (3/16/11) NYTimes.  The whole thing is here. She calls Williams (a Philadelphia district attorney)  ‘the avenging altarboy’.  Dowd emphasizes the reverence of parishioners for their priests. This reverence and a studied public relations campaign by the church hierarchy explains the glacial process of confronting the crimes and the scant discussion of prosecution and punishment. To date, the offenses have been handled by civil courts with large fines (I think it was $250 million in Dallas.)  R. Seth Williams is apparently the first to bring criminal charges against a church official (Msgr. William J. Lynn) for covering up the acts of molesters and placing them in new parishes where they could offend anew while their parishes were ignorant.

In court, aside from their attorneys, the defendants have their supporters.  And, in standard tactics, the attorneys say that the witness against them is a ‘liar’.  This is, of course, all before opening arguments.

My personal feeling is that the Roman Catholic church should be brought up on RICO charges for aiding and abetting criminal behavior.  I think it’s fair to say that this activity has been on-going for two decades at least. If the church is bankrupted in the U.S. as a result, I’m fine with that.  I should state for the record that I am not a Catholic, lapsed or otherwise.

I am aware that there is a vast amount of good accomplished by the Catholic Church in the U.S..  I am also aware that there is a large body of believers.  I think that this legal matter is strong evidence that the U. S. church has come loose from its moorings. And,  as Francis Crawford once said:  “what every sect potentially becomes when it loses leadership: a tool.”  (pg. # 135,  ‘The Disorderly Knights”, Vintage Books, c 1966)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: