Still Unwilling to be Accountable
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 09:16:48 AM EST
The Catholic Right, Forty-six in a Series

Earlier this year I reported on how Bishop Bruskewitz, the authoritarian Catholic bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, had refused to participate in the Church's national anti-pedophilia program. Sad to say, the Catholic lay group, Call to Action says nothing has changed.

For those who wonder whether there really are good reasons for the complete separation of church and state, and wonder whether people, (not to mention the framers of the Constitution) have been rightly concerned about the mutual corruptions that can occur when the two get entangled -- or whether they are just anti-religious -- consider this Exhibit A.

It is logical to assume that those who would resist accountability from their own religious institution would, if so empowered, resist accountability if they ever were to have state power.


Thousands of children at risk in his diocese

Five years after the massive revelations of clergy sexual abuse, there remains one renegade Catholic diocesan bishop in Lincoln, Nebraska, out of 178 dioceses in the country, who recently admitted to not complying with the US bishop Conference measures to protect children from sexual abuse.

Bishop Bruskewitz threatened to arrest Catholics from the Lincoln diocese who attempted this past summer to deliver petitions requesting that he protect children. Due to the media and public pressure from this incident, the diocese published an article in its diocesan newspaper revealing what it was--or WAS NOT--doing to protect children. Bishop Bruskewitz admitted that he was not following the bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including not mandating diocese-wide background checks and not implementing "safe environment" programs.

"This is dangerous behaviour on the part of Bishop Bruskewitz but it also incriminates the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops," says Nicole Sotelo, Media Coordinator of Call To Action/USA. "Five years ago this month at the bishops' meeting, the bishops issued a statement saying they would hold one another accountable to protect children via 'fraternal correction.' However, to date, no bishop has publicly challenged Bishop Bruskewitz. As a result, all bishops are responsible for what is happening in Lincoln."

The President of CTA/Nebraska and a representative from CTA/USA will attempt to deliver the petitions to the bishops at their Monday meeting since they were unable to deliver the petitions under threat of arrest by Bishop Bruskewitz this summer. A press conference and the petitions delivery will take place Monday, November 12th at 1pm at the bishops' meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Maryland. National representatives from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Voice of the Faithful will speak at the event.

"We will ask the U.S. bishops to publicly challenge Bishop Bruskewitz and we are challenging Bishop Bruskewitz, ourselves," says Rachel Pokora, President of CTA/Nebraska. "Jesus cared for children, why won't our bishops?"

Hundreds of calls and postcards have been sent to bishops across the country as part of a campaign by Call To Action to ask bishops to fraternally correct Bishop Bruskewitz at this November meeting.

For a copy of the diocesan newspaper article detailing Bishop Bruskewitz' failure to comply, click here.

The Omaha World-Herald recently reported, "The Lincoln Diocese and three or four Eastern Rite eparchies are the only U.S. Catholic jurisdictions not to participate in the latest audits, said Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection." Catholics and non-Catholics alike have every reason to ask, why on Earth would anybody would seek self-exemption from such accountability? Is there something to hide in Omaha?

As I previously observed of Bishop Bruskewitz and his ilk:

Bishop Bruskewitz appears to be typical of certain members of a Catholic hierarchy that seems more interested in protecting the church as an institution rather than her flesh and blood members. Power always seems to come before the personal well-being of her congregants. Accountability is avoided. In its place, members of the Church hierarchy-such as Lincoln, Nebraska's bishop--brazenly seek to be exempted from the rules -- make that the laws -- that apply to everyone else. No wonder why many on the Catholic Right rail at the notion of keeping church and state separate.

By and large, religious leaders are either an unelected hierarchy or elected, but only accountable to the members of their specific denomination. If government is ever allowed to become the enforcement arm of any one faith, one of liberal democracy's most cherished institutions, leadership accountability, goes right out the window.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one   Part Forty-two   Part Forty-three   Part Forty-four   Part Forty-five

Over and over again, Catholic Right players such as George Weigel and Bill Donohue deride those of us who seek reform and transparency as "a culture of dissent." Well, Jesus dissented for the rights of others. It would be downright immoral not to question a member of the hierarchy who so arrogantly puts the well-being of his authority over that of the children in his diocese.  

Three cheers for CTA!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 09:20:21 AM EST

You've hit the nail on the head. Judging by what I see, there are a lot of us lay Catholics out there who don't want to return to "business as usual."


by khughes1963 on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:25:45 AM EST

This just underscores the need for dissent within the Church. Stifling dissent leads to directly to stifling accountability--whether in faith or in government.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 09:52:49 AM EST

Can anyone reasonably expect a twenty centuries old institution to be anything but authoritarian and corrupt?

by sulphurdunn on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 02:40:07 PM EST
As a Catholic, I don't care how old an institution the Church is; I still expect the hierarchy to be transparent and accountable. That's one reason I wrote this piece--I ain't giving up.

More importantly, neither are other Catholics, notably those who make up groups such as Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action. They too are part of the Catholic Church. Hopefully, they represent her future.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 04:22:18 PM EST

Dour fatalism can be self-fulfilling prophesy.  At Talk to Action we are interested in taking the conversation forward to what is possible in light of the problems we are working hard to understand and to define.

People whose contributions (here, and elsewhere in society) are limited to sneers and snarks are holding back the work that needs to be done.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 04:42:22 PM EST

The opponents of reform constantly rely upon fatalism and apathy.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:08:53 PM EST

for another great report, Frank.
    I can only wonder what kind of soundproof, hermetically sealed existence Bishop Bruskewitz is carrying on. The pedophilia crisis has done more to destroy the credibility of Roman Catholic clergy than anything since Martin Luther noticed that there was something rotten about selling indulgences, and Bruskewitz feels entitled to opt out of making a start on remedying the matter?

by nogodsnomasters on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 09:58:43 PM EST
it's probably the archaic mindset of an old-fashioned priest who sees himself "as a man set apart" and above his community.

If that were to be the case, that's very sad.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Tue Dec 11, 2007 at 07:23:41 AM EST

It's really bad that a man of the church refuse to protect the children. I don't know what to say really.
Douglas, Programmer currently working on the Hair Health Online Pharmacies project.
by Douglas B on Sun Feb 24, 2008 at 07:09:02 AM EST

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