Pushing them out the door

Pushing them out the door

The problem with treating everyone like a criminal rather than just those who might actually be guilty of something is that there is a law of unintended consequences. Case in point: The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, requires that everyone in the diocese be fingerprinted: priests, seminarians, nuns, church employees, lay volunteers, and so on. Does your 80-year-old Aunt Gertrude teach CCD to toddlers? Fingerprint her like any felon down at the country jail.

It’s the same impulse that requires the same 80-year-old woman be pulled aside at the airport to be sure she’s not smuggling box cutters in her girdle. We must do that, we’re told, because we can’t offend people by profiling them. Never mind that every single terrorist highjacker in recent history has been an Islamic adult male from the Middle East. In the same way, never mind that the vast majority of sexual abuse in the Church was caused by homosexually inclined adult men who gave all the warning signs of being an abuser which were ignored by their bishops. No, in order to show that these same bishops are “doing something,” we have to order fingerprintings and background checks. One problem with background checks and fingerprinting, of course, is that they won’t catch the first-timers. After all, if a guy’s never been caught and arrested for abuse, then he won’t have a criminal background to check.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
16 comments
  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • Is it my imagination or do all the measures put in place by the american hierarchy have the mark of a committee of bureaucrats?  And, what are the marks of a committee of bureaucrats?  They are three: C Y A.

  • When I applied to my diocese I had to be fingerprinted (as it turned out, the place I had to go was the county jail—in the “waiting room”, I got to sit on a bench alongside real live criminals!).  I also had to have a state background check and an FBI background check.  Then there are the usual things like the six-hour long psychological exam, and questionnaires sent to my references.  I didn’t feel humiliated or anything; but it certainly was time-consuming.

  • Last year our Parish required background checks for CCE teachers and volunteers.  I find it offensive that they assume everyone to be a criminal.  For some reason, this year there were fewer volunteers.  Hmmmm.

    OTOH, this treatment happens across the board.  Look at public schools.  The psuedo-Soviets running the schools treat all kids like they are criminals wether there is reason or not.  On the rare occasion something happens, the powers that be jump up and shriek “We knew it, we knew it!  Let us go forth and institute more restrictive, invasive policies”.  And the uninformed nod their heads and say “They are the degreed people, they must be correct”.  It’s out of control.

  • The Archdiocese of Washington, where I live, has required this for the past year. I have resisted getting fingerprinted and checked – not because I have anything to hide, I just don’t like the idea of being assumed to be a child molester when it was the bishops who allowed the actual molesters to run wild for the past 30 years. Of course, if you bring up that you don’t like the program, you are looked at like you are a guilty felon.

    So far, I’ve only volunteered for adult-related things, but with four young children, it’s getting harder and harder to not be able to volunteer for their activities.

  • I’ve already commented on this over at Open Book.  Apparently this policy extends to the choir at my parish, including my 15- and 13-year-old daughters. 

    I wonder if the faithful can rise up and make the chancery back down on this one, as they did on the infamous “Good Touch, Bad Touch” program.

    All I can say is that someone is giving Bishop Loverde very bad advice on how to avoid tort liability—I mean, abuse of minors.

  • I just had a horrible thought:  I wonder if the fact that my daughters are in the choir is the very reason that choir members will have to undergo fingerprinting and background checks, since they will have “substantial contact with children.”  I am sick to think that their wish to volunteer for this service migh be imposing this burden on their fellow choir members (as well as on each other).

  • I’m happy to report that my wife attended a meeting at our parish last night and was told that the policy is now to be applied only to paid employees and to those who work one-on-one with children.  As a result, members of the choir (including our teenage girls) will not have to be checked and fingerprinted.  So there is at least that degree of sanity at the chancery after all.

  • It has become standard practice in the US to fingerprint and security-check employees in any industry where security or personnel concerns are important—from nuclear plants to schoolteachers right down to truck drivers.  So I am quite amazed that people find this shocking.  I’m sure many people have already had it done for their employment.

    Nevertheless, I guess i can understand why some people don’t like it—it’s a pain in the neck.  And it doesn’t seem reasonable for choir volunteers (?!) and regular laypeople…unless they run youth group or something like that.

    I like Dom’s characterization of it being like airport security.  Clearly full fingerprinting and security checks should be done on ALL priests, bishops, religious and lay employees who will have any one-on-one contact, even incidental with parishoners.  It’s just good legal practice to avoid trouble. 

    But little old lady security checks might be a waste of time, yes.  This from a little old lady who loves to fly on airplanes—who gets her luggage unpacked and packed regularly by the airlines….It’s enough to make me want to wave at them with my tatting shuttle……

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