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Meditation 815
Painting the facade... while support beams rot.

by: JT

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You might wonder at the previous Meditation, mocking a trivial and unenforceable Vatican policy. But it reflects what is wrong with the Catholic Church - protecting surface appearances while initiating no action to attack the rot within, part of which is reflected in the culture of pedophilia in the clergy.

I'm not saying that any more than a small minority of Catholic priests actually engage in sexual abuse of children, but when you add in all those who turn a blind eye, or actually engage in covering up, it becomes a significantly larger minority.

And I'm not saying the Church does nothing - it has acted, but only when the public outcry is loud enough, and it becomes blindingly obvious that it needs to do something. But until it becomes public knowledge outside the church, the policy has been to cover up the rot, not remove it.

Let's consider what has recently become public knowledge.

This summer in Sudbury, Canada, Father Bernard Cloutier, a serial child abuser, was finally tried and sentenced for some of his crimes. Yet, he was reported back in 1983. It came out in testimony that while the police were investigating the initial accusation a quarter century ago and were interviewing three of Cloutier's young victims (all altar boys) at one of the boy's homes, Bishop Gerard Dionne arrived with Cloutier, angrily took over the interview, took the boys one by one into another room, and managed to get them to recant. The interviewing police officer (a devout Catholic, of course) just sat back and let the Bishop have free unsupervised access to the children. As a result of the Bishop's interferrence in the investigation, no charges were laid. And Father Bernard Cloutier continued to abuse children for years, thanks directly to his Bishop intervening.

And meanwhile as this finally enters public knowledge, the Vatican is developing a policy to... ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter.

Also this summer, the Bishop of Antogonish, Raymond Lahey resigned. Now Lahey was widely respected because in two dioceses, he had acted quickly to resolve abuse accusations, without engaging in the usual delay and cover-up. But on Lahey's return to Canada from a trip abroad, Canada Customs chose to inspect his computer. It was full of child pornography. And not the soft-core variety. Criminal charges have been filed. Interestingly accusations had been made over 20 years earlier that he was a child porn devotee - long before he was promoted to bishop. This was covered up, and Lahey was subsequently promoted with the help of a culture of cover-up.

And meanwhile, the Vatican is developing a policy to... protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope.

Then there's Ireland where a commission investigating abuse in the period 1975 - 2004 in Dublin identified abuse of decades and a systematic cover-up by the Church and the police. The commission determined that the Church put its own reputation ahead of the welfare of children. Offending priests were just shifted to other parishes to abuse again and again. Four archbishops (one of them a cardinal) were named as knowingly participating in the cover-up.

For emphasis, let's restate that finding buried in the middle of the above paragraph:

The Church put its own reputation ahead of the welfare of children

And meanwhile, the Vatican is developing a policy to... safeguard against the unauthorized use of the Pope's name.

As a result of the Irish investigation, the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, has resigned. He was an auxiliary Bishop in Dublin previously and had dismissed child abuse allegations without serious investigation, and those priests he "cleared" continued to abuse. In his resignation statement, he said:

"I asked the Holy Father to allow me to resign and to appoint a new bishop to the diocese because I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers."

Right - he's resigning for some of the survivors - not because he failed to do his duty. Allowed to resign? Why wasn't he fired?

A month later, another Bishop, the Bishop of Kildare also resigned. He too, while employed in the Diocese of Dublin failed to properly investigate a priest accused of abuse, and who subsequently continued to abuse children. He had insisted he was not going to resign - but public pressure forced him to, not the Vatican.

And meanwhile, the Vatican is developing a policy to... no, forget about the Vatican, what was the Pope doing?

And meanwhile the Pope was... fasttracking his predecessor for sainthood. (Benedict declared him Venerable this week.) This is the predecessor who was Pope for so long that he appointed nearly all active bishops.

Among those bishops appointed by the (now) Venerable John Paul II were nearly all those exposed as involved in covering-up abuse scandals around the world. Of course, John Paul II's primary focus, just like the current and previous Popes, was painting the facade while the support beams rot.