Slouching Towards Accountability To Be Born?
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 03:13:44 PM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Fifty-four
Fresh off his smearing of James Carroll, Bill Donohue is at it yet again.  This time, he is using the occasion of Pope Benedict's visit to insult those who seek accountability for the serial  cover-up of sexual abuses by priests.

Clearly, the man has no shame. But he also may have miscalculated. There has been a small, but rather important shift in Vatican thinking.

In a recent Catholic League press release entitled, "Dissidents are a Motley Crew." Bloviating Bill had this to say:

"These groups are dying out fast. Staffed by senior citizens who are angry that the Church didn't turn left, they have almost no members under the age of 90 (okay, maybe 85).

Among the groups Donohue dismissed were Voice of the Faithful and SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), two lay organizations demanding accountability from the Church hierarchy for the victims of clergy pedophilia. The Catholic Right, held hostage to its Neo-Platonic mindset, has always viewed any form of dissent -legitimate or not-as the equalivalent  of disbelief. (This has admittedly been a highly effective tool for obfuscating the real issue in matters of politics and faith.)

But it now seems that Donohue and his ilk may be becoming the ones out of step with the Vatican.  Perhaps more importantly, it is dissent itself that may be causing the Catholic Church to take the first real step in forty years to become more accountable to its flock.

As of this writing, the Pope has focused less on such matters as stem cell research, abortion or gay rights - the usual issues Donohue and his Catholic Right friends use a political cudgel to beat up anyone to the left of Attila the Hun. Instead, he has given a UN speech that focused upon the inequalities of wealth and power in the world.  And now he has  (belatedly but forcefully), addressed the horribly handled pedophilia crisis; one where a game of hide the perps all-too-often prevailed while church leaders failed to address the problem of pedophilic priests; failed to help (and often blamed) the victims; and displayed a vanity in which church leaders were more concerned about PR than about the people of God.

Call to Action took a significantly more refined and mature tact on the occasion of the Pontiff's visit. Here is their dissenting press release:

(Chicago) - Before touching down in the United States, Pope Benedict XVI said he was "deeply ashamed" of the clergy sexual abuse crisis and "will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future." "Yet the Pope has not disciplined or demoted any U.S. Bishop for his role in the sexual abuse crisis," says Call To Action, the U.S.-based Catholic Church Reform organization.

"If the Pope is serious about changing the culture in the U.S. Church that allowed this crisis to happen, he must mandate that bishops comply with the National Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that he himself approved while he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican," says Dan Daley, Co-Director of Call To Action/USA. "As the pastor of this church, the Pope must also provide on-going outreach to survivors of clergy sexual abuse."

In that same statement, CTA again addressed an intolerable situation yet to be resolved - that of Lincoln, Nebraska's Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz

"April is Child Abuse Prevention Month," says Rachel Pokora, President of CTA/Nebraska, "and yet the Pope has taken no action against Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska who admitted last summer that he was not mandating diocese-wide background checks and not implementing child prevention training programs as every bishop in the U.S. is supposed to do according to the National Charter. The Pope has done nothing to discipline Bishop Bruskewitz or to mandate these protection measures be put in place to prevent the abuse of children in our diocese."

"The Pope could use this visit to the United States to promote healing for survivors, to bring bishops to justice and to restore our faith in the Church," says Pokora. "With his statement on sexual abuse yesterday, it is important that actions follow his words."

It is indeed a very good first step that the Pope has met the issue of pedophilia head-on. And it is clearly a powerful affirmation of the cleansing power of dissent. Yet words must still translate into deeds. As a timely piece in Saturday's New York Times put it:

No matter how many expressions of remorse come from the pope, however, many victims will not be mollified until the church holds bishops accountable. Many victims and their parents have memories of being rebuffed when they tried to alert a bishop to wrongdoing, or of being stunned to learn that a bishop had quietly reassigned a priest accused of molesting a child to another parish.

And a good place to start putting those positive gestures into action would be in Lincoln, Nebraska, with the renegade Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

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   Part Forty-six   Part Forty-seven   Part Forty-eight   Part Forty-nine   Part Fifty   Part Fifty-one   Part Fifty-two   Part Fifty-three

Perhaps Mr. Donohue is wearing out his welcome. Let's hope so.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 03:16:38 PM EST
Bill is one of those Catholics for whom the institutional church is the highest plain of human existence, should be immune from any and all criticism and the Church as an institution is far more important than any of the people comprising the institution. He can't stand any criticism suggesting the Church is a less than perfect institution, hence his willingness to lash out at any criticism. As a Catholic, it is painful to me to admit the leaders chosen to lead the Catholic Church during the scandal had an unfortunate tendency to conceal wrongdoing, hide evidence of their knowledge about some priests and laity from the parishioners, and to generally behave like corporate businessmen caught with a product recall.

by khughes1963 on Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 10:46:34 PM EST
Kathy, unfortunately, he is the gift that keeps on giving. And I use the "gift" metaphor with all the charity that one usually reserves for getting one of those stale fruitcakes at Christmastime.  

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 09:47:23 AM EST

"the usual issues Donohue and his Catholic Right friends use a political cudgel to beat up anyone to the left of Attila the Hun." I don't have anything at this point to offer regarding the situation except to notice that that line is so conceptually perfect. anyone more liberal than Stalin anyone less paranoid than McCarthy anyone less anti-gay than the Pope Thank you.

by Emproph on Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 05:44:23 PM EST
Heh, when you live in NYC long enough --and especially being a born Brooklynite-- you learn all the good tag lines.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 09:43:47 AM EST

but I think that this is all part of maintaining the status quo.  Yes, he DID talk with SOME of the victims of abusive priests, but as far as I've heard, nothing was said (or done) about punishing the abusers and those who covered for them.

In fact, I would say that his trip here was to try to reinforce dogma- against abortion, against stem-cell research, and so on (against freedom!)   He appears to be fighting for control over the American branch of the RC church- that's my impression.

The visits with the victims were a sop IMO, meant to quiet down the protests.  "See, the Pope does care!!!"  Expressing shame is easy- changing structure or providing checks and balances- that requires work (and the elites sacrificing their hold on power).

He can show that he meant it by putting actions to his words- by dealing with those in his hierarchy who protected the perps.  That would show that he is REALLY listening to people!

Part of the healing of injustice REQUIRES that justice be done on behalf of the victims.  You can't just tell people to "forgive and walk on in the Joy of the Lord"!!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 11:59:22 AM EST

In fact, I too am a bit skeptical. But, with that said, I'll give it a little time to see how it plays out. Many, many moons ago this pope was a leading Church liberal. Let's see if he's rethinking things just a wee bit.

For me, though, I want to see him lay down the law to Bishop Bruskewitz. If he does, then I'll know he's ready to back up his words with action.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 01:05:31 PM EST

If he jumps on Bruskewitz, then it would be a good sign.   I'd also like to see him rein in Donohue (and others like him).

We'll have to wait and see what comes out of this visit.

I found it disturbing that he called for Catholics to get more involved in society.  While that in itself is a good thing, if the people are only going to be in lockstep with the Vatican (on issues like abortion, contraception, etc.), then it poses a deep threat to freedom in the US.  The greatest freedom is that of conscience- the right to think for ourselves.  (As for me, I'm at the point where I won't let anyone else tell me how to think!)

I did appreciate his emphasis on helping the poor, although I wonder sometimes if he recognizes that there are a LOT of poor people in the US- and not just in the "third world".  The divide between the rich and poor is growing wider every minute.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 03:21:17 PM EST

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