Not guts, but a forced hand

Not guts, but a forced hand

Recall the case of Fr. Michael Jude Fay, the alleged misuse of his parish’s funds to the tune of over a million dollars, and the lurid details of his alleged openly homosexual relationship all taking place at St. John parish in Darien, Connecticut. Also recall how the Diocese of Bridgeport originally ignored the warnings from an associate pastor and the bookkeeper, who then hired their own private investigator and only after the PI got the goods that they took public did the diocese act. And finally recall that the associate pastor, Fr. Michael Madden, and the bookkeeper suffered the consequences for breaking the code of silence.

With all that in mind, I suppose I should be surprised at the chutzpah of the diocesan newspaper, The Fairfield County Catholic in its editorial of August 12 (they don’t have it online) entitled “Guts” to say the following:

Which brings us to Darien. It took guts for the Diocese of Bridgeport to mail a copy of the full, independent report on financial wrongdoing to every member of St. John Parish—1,700 and counting. Why? Because it is not pretty. The report is a warts-and-all account of the most grotesque, nefarious activity by a man claiming to represent Our Lord. People have a right to be outraged. And they have a right to read the unvarnished truth.

The diocese does not escape criticism in the report, and there are many recommendations. A task force is working to implement these. We can do better, and will. Our unprecedented response to the clergy abuse scandal is evidence that a crisis can make us more aware, alert, determined, and accountable.

Folks, this is not satire. They intend this seriously. It wasn’t “guts” that compelled them to the send the report to the parishioners. They had their hands forced. If Madden and the bookkeeper had not retained the PI, what do you think odds were that this would have come out? And once it did come out, did they have any choice but to make a full accounting to parishioners?

Coming clean to the people who got ripped off was the least they needed to do. But instead they wrap it up as if it was a moment of great courage. Yeah, sure, the “unprecedented response” to the Scandal is a good comparison, but I’m not sure it’s the one they think it is.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli