Another exhibit of why the Scandal is not “history”

Another exhibit of why the Scandal is not “history”

Here is another example of why the Scandal is not “history,” as Bishop Wilton Gregory now famously proclaimed. Archbishop Alex Brunett of Seattle is being criticized for saying clergy sex abuse is an old problem and that kids won’t molested in the future. He’s disbanding his review board, stonewalling on releasing reports, minimizing criticism, and squelching potentiallu unflattering analyses of his leadership in this area.

One of the big areas of concern is that Brunett refuses to publicly name seven priests accused of abuse and suspended from ministry while their cases are being reviewed by the Vatican. The review board says the names should come out so that other possible victims can come forward, but the archdiocese is reluctant to release the names in case the priests are innocent. Yet at least one of these priests has been determined by the review board to have engaged in “egregious” conduct toward children, i.e. credible evidence of abuse, yet has been seen celebrating Mass, despite his suspension.

The continuing impulse of the most bishops is to declare the Scandal over, the problem solved by new policies and committees, and return to business as usual. But like I’ve been saying all along, until the bishops hold one another accountable, until those who shuffled the abusers about in the first place or who obfuscated to protect those who did are called on the carpet, then the Scandal is not over, the situation has not been rectified.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
20 comments
  • Dom, let’s face facts. These useless bishops will never hold each other accountable. Only the pope can do that, and this pope seems more interested in promoting his theological (canonizing saints, ecumenism w/Islam) and political (reviving “Christendom” in Europe) agendas than in administering the church. Ultimately, the Scandal must be laid at his doorstep because he has allowed it to perpetuate and to mutate into the form that Bishop Brunett now embodies.

    If any of the lawyers at my firm behaved in such a manner, they would be put before a law review board for misfeasance.

    Denny Crane

  • Let’s not go overboard. Canonizing saints, evangelizing others, ensuring a Christian society are all legitimate roles of a Pope. It’s not his only or even primary job to ride shotgun on his brother bishops—he shouldn’t have to—although it is part of his job.

    The Pope should have called bishops on the carpet when their misconduct became apparent, he should have been appointing better bishops, and he should have paid more attention to governance. But I don’t think that means that attention paid to theological and even political agendas is wrong. It’s about paying the right amount of attention to the right areas. He hasn’t done that.

  • Sadly he has not done that (paying the right amount of attention) and yet he will most likely be Pope John Paul the Great.  What I don’t understand is how you could not step in considering the amount of damage that has been done, how you can allow the Bishops to say, it’s all over folks, we had a few meetings and we all got out of it ok and we are going to keep it that way and the Pope does not intervene and then promotes to ArchBishop one whose efforts were laughable. 

  • Because he is desperately ill with a disease you don’t understand.  Parkinson’s in its late stages robs its victims of what you might call “executive capacity”.  This was first seen by caretakers but now is discussed in reputable books on the subject.  The patient cannot plan ahead even when he knows that there will be a problem if he doesn’t.  The simplest example is falling.  Patients know they will fall but can’t *plan* how to walk across a room safely, though a caretaker can arrange a safe room (one where there are always objects to catch the fall so to speak). 

  • I am not talking about a disease that I do understand, thank you.  I am talking about a scandal that errupted over 30 years ago in some areas and a Pope that has been around for 25 years and that could have addressed the subversion of the Faith numerous times yet has admitted he was slow to discipline and look at the cost.  I am talking about seminaries that have been nothing more than gay bath houses and that was years ago, years.  If we follow the argument of the disease, then we might as well shut down the Church, Satan has won, we are leaderless at the Vatican so let’s just all become Protestants and do it our own way.  Does that sound better?

    Books that have been condemned by the Vatican are still out there, I was taught in RCIA from one for at least three classes, mainly the works of Anthony De Mello because the teacher liked the Oriental flavorings. 

    This scandal is not about a bunch of preverted individuals running around amok, it is about an abandonment of the Faith that started many years ago and many years ago it should have been dealt with.  How ironic, it now seems we are saying it is ok because he has been robbed of the ability to lead.  That is just a backdoor to undermining his legitimacy and I am not for that. 

  • Preach it, Rodney. You are absolutely correct. We will be living with the repercussions of his misrule for the rest of our lives.

  • Yes, I believe that we will.  It will be most interesting to see what history makes of this papacy.  History tends to see leaders in a light that didn’t shine upon them while they were leading. 

    Still, I have a hard time getting past the idea that this Pope did precisely what he wanted to do, and that the results…a Church in chaos…are exactly what he intended to achieve.

  • “The review board says the names should come out so that other possible victims can come forward, but the archdiocese is reluctant to release the names in case the priests are innocent.” Why would you need to have a name provided to you before you could come forward with a complaint? You would need a name if you HADN’T been victimized but wanted to jump on the gravy train. I think the policy of the archdiocese is reasonable.

  • Because of the psychology of abuse, sometimes victims will not come forward because they think no one will believe them or that they are responsible for their own abuse or somesuch. But if an authority figure or other victims name the abuser, it releases them from those mentla bonds and it makes it easier to come forward.

    There are real victims of abuse and the presence of charlatans should not provide either cover for abusers or automatic suspicion of victims.

  • Rodney is right. Granted, the pope’s Parkinson’s could well affect his decision-making ability. But evidence exists prior to his contracting the disease that points to the fact that this pope is willing to cover the backsides of his brother bishops for “the good of the (institutional) church.”

    I refer all of you to David Yallop’s 1984 book, “In God’s Name.” Yallop theorizes that Pope John Paul I was murdered by a conspiracy involving highly-placed church officials and Italian organized-crime figures. Yallop also portrays the current pope as reconfirming w/o prejudice two of the officials alledgedly involved (Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, head of the Vatican Bank at the time and Secretary of State Jean Villot, who died shortly thereafter), and protecting one of them from Italian prosecutors (Marcinkus).

    If that seems astounding to some of you, consider how the current pope has governed in the interim.

  • Yallop convinced me.  John Paul I intended to clean house.  It’s possible that JPII was afraid.  He had reason to be.  But the cover-up, in any case, seems to be firmly in place.  And now we have evidence of an unrelated cover-up in the sexual abuse crisis confirming the notion that the Vatican is comfortable with obfuscating the truth.  Tends to reinforce Yallop’s claims, for me at least.

  • “Because of the psychology of abuse, sometimes victims will not come forward because they think no one will believe them or that they are responsible for their own abuse or somesuch.”
    After 2 years+ of very public affirmation and support, I doubt very much that there is anyone out there who thinks no one will believe him. A cleric professing innocence is much more likely to be doubted.

  • Carrie,

    Always an interesting topic, this question of why the Pope has let this get so far.
    It will be interesting to see how history treats this papacy.  I suspect that the picture later will be quite different than it has been during the papacy.  Hindsight seems already to be catching up with this papacy—the scandals, consequences, etc.  We will see.

    Personally, I think the “kissing the koran” photos, UN hotshot beatifications, funny instant communication photos, etc. are going to get in the way later for those who really liked this pope….over and above the management problems and the persistent refusal to govern, which many seem to be willing to explain away.  If these incidents have been the result of illness, corruption or whatever, that will be very difficult to explain because illness and strong-arming are not supposed to rule the day.  But even more difficult if they were freely chosen.  Either way, eeew.

    Some people worry a lot about who the next pope will be.  Honestly, I don’t so much.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the worst has already happened, even if all the consequences haven’t played out yet.

  • The one thing that people consistently forget is that God is in charge of it all.  God is the one who makes saints, whether we recognize them or not.  God is the one who runs the Church *through* Peter, when Peter permits it.  And God is the one who allows each one free will, but does not allow the Catholic Church to solemnly teach error.  He allows all kinds of folly and even confusion which we produce, but not solemn error.

    That must always be remembered on every level.

  • Recall that after the 1981 assassination attempt the Pope went through a series of illnesses – intestinal cancer, etc. and the onset of Parkinsons is slow and insidious.

    My opinion is that the pope has been “asleep at the switch” (no levity intended) – since about 85 or 86 and the governance of the church has largely been done by Vatican factions – which is one explanation of the hugely contradictory words/actions…..

    One of the affects of Parkinsons is a subtle “withdrawal from reality” – without necessarily any diminution of the mental powers – a kind of physical and mental ‘shell’ – unwillingness to make decisions, inability to express emotion, etc… Again this is insidious and slow, not consistent – no doubt the pope even now has his lucid periods. It is truly a tragedy how a papcy that began with such bright promise has deteriorated.

    But I second michicancatholic’s last post….

  • I don’t think Parkinson’s explains much.  The pope’s policy from the beginning has been to lead by teaching and by example and to avoid confrontation.  The many mediocre episcopal appointments can be explained by a policy of appointing others with the same leadership style and of making appointments that come up through normal channels.  We are, in fact, seeing a glacial drift in a positive direction in the American episcopate.  Many good things are happening.  Nevertheless, the overall situation continues to deteriorate. 

    I think history will judge JP2 as a great theologian and a passive leader. 

  • Yes, many things are happening that are good and encouraging, yet the things that are not good are more abundant, sometimes just by the lack of support for the good and positive.  Sadly, I don’t believe the Scandal is over yet really the true Scandal is the abandonment of the Faith that started back in the 1960’s.

    I just have problems with a theologian who sees passive actions as being in-line with the Faith.  The traditions of the Faith have been hijacked as Carrie has stated before.  The role of a leader is to lead not only by example but by actions and when actions are lacking, then what type of example is that?

  • Correct. Pope John Paul has been great at the wrong job. His selection was intentional though. A good leader would have addressed the disasters that vatican II wrought. We didn’t get that.

    Now the Vatican is proposing that they do away with the necessity for miracles for canonization. Last week American Bishops were getting praised for their handling of the crisis.

    You can see the trend.

  • St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of Battle; Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke Him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

    This is the shorter version of the prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII after saying Mass one day in the Vatican chapel attended by some Cardinals and others on the Vatican staff, following a dramatic incident.  He was in leaving the altar when he suddenly collapsed to the floor and awoke saying “Oh, what a horrible picture I was permitted to see.”  He had witnessed a struggle between Satan and the Church, in which Satan bragged he could destroy the Church in about 100 years.  But he had been relieved to see that Satan would not triumph because St. Michael would be there to consign him to the abyss of hell.  Not long after this experience he composed this prayer which used to be said after every low Mass through the Catholic world.  This was in 1884.

    In 1994 in a speech in St. Peter’s square, Pope John Paul II said, ““May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: “Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”

    How sad, in less than 100 years the prayer was removed from the Mass and it was even admitted by the current Pope.  What an admission.

    Yet, this has been seen before by a Pope and he saw the end would be victory for St. Michael, victory for the Church and as always victory for Christ.

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