Saturday, September 14

What a sorry mess:

Archdiocese of Boston's top canon lawyer placed on leave again

The Archdiocese of Boston has again placed its top canon lawyer on administrative leave after receiving new allegations from an accuser whose charges had collapsed amid questions about his credibility. A lawsuit by a former altar boy has accused Monsignor Michael Smith Foster of sex abuse, but the lawsuit was dismissed Sept. 3 after doubts were raised about the allegation. The archdiocese reinstated Foster last week after its own investigation. But on Thursday, Foster's accuser gave the archdiocese new information about his allegations against the church official, according to a statement from the archdiocese. The archdiocese reopened the investigation, according to church policy. ....Foster reacted with disbelief to the archdiocese's action. "It is inconceivable to me that the archdiocese could further delay my reinstatement based on nothing more than Paul Edwards' repetition of the same false allegations," Foster said in a statement.

In Cedar Rapids, a K of C - sponsored dinner to show support of priests has sold out:

Members of the Islamic and Jewish religions, Churches United, the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, the Sisters of Mercy, Franciscan Sisters and the Council of Catholic Women will give brief messages of support.The Rev. Dave Loy, Churches United president, says he couldn't pass up the oppor- tunity to support priests."I feel that any faith that has individuals who work toward the betterment of life and people and hold up God to people should be supported. There are so many who have done nothing wrong and yet are being judged unfairly," says Loy, pastor of Community of Christ Church.

From NRO's Rod Dreher, regarding the stories below about the problematic Carmelite:

Amy, I'm shaking with anger over that New York Post story about the Carmelite father Tamburrino you blogged earlier. As it turns out, I was one of the reporters who broke the story last spring about the sex-abuse lawsuit in which he was named. Contrary to what the Carmelite superior Fr. Driscoll says in today's Post story, Tamburrino was NOT suspended from ministry and jobless after the lawsuit was filed. The Church moved Tamburrino to a forensic hospital (i.e., for the criminally insane) in upstate New York, and made him chaplain.

After I began writing about the case, a man from upstate who was a volunteer at that hospital contacted me to tell me that he was worried about Fr. Tamburrino, the new chaplain. He alleged that Fr. Tamburrino had invited him into his office at the hospital, and showed him photographs he (Tamburrino) had taken of male patients with their shirts off. The volunteer told me it disgusted him, and concerned him too, because many of the patients there are heavily sedated by medication because of their condition. Therefore, they can be told to do pretty much anything, and they'll comply (said the volunteer).

Furthermore, the volunteer said he had reported the photograph incident to the hospital director, who alerted Tamburrino that somebody on his volunteer staff was ratting him out. After he read in the Post that Tamburrino was named in a sex-abuse lawsuit downstate, the volunteer became frightened that one of the patients was going to be targeted by the chaplain -- and that nobody in authority at the hospital cared.

I phoned Tamburrino's office at the forensic hospital, got him briefly on the phone, took his "No comment," and that was that. But I was able to verify that he worked there.

I was never able to write about this for the Post, because my editors took me off the story.

I cannot believe Driscoll has the gall to outright lie about what Tamburrino was doing last year. Then again, it's not exactly news that the Catholic hierarchy lies to cover its butt, is it?

I'm about to call the Post to remind them what I know about this case. I think your readers should know the full story, though.

Pataki says he's all set to sign the bill mandating contraceptive coverage by all employers

It would also require most employers to offer insurance coverage of contraceptives obtained through prescriptions. Exemptions would apply only to churches and other institutions, such as seminaries, with a mainly religious mission and which primarily serve people of that religion. Those employees must have access to lower group rates for separate coverage. Catholic organizations not exempted under the legislation include 40 hospitals, 60 nursing homes and hundreds of charities, said Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York Catholic Conference, which represents the state's Catholic bishops and Cardinal Edward Egan. He was unsure whether the bill would exempt some of the 800 Catholic schools statewide. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the bill's lead supporter, argues that it would not.

From Philadelphia: the progress of the grand-jury investigation into clerical sexual-abuse cases

Five months after District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham launched a grand-jury inquiry into the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Philadelphia Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the investigation has emerged as extensive and aggressive.Lawyers familiar with the investigation say it is wide-ranging and focuses in part on whether there was any conspiracy or obstruction of justice by the archdiocese or anyone else when the sexual-abuse allegations came to light.In recent weeks, investigators and lawyers from the District Attorney's Office have interviewed alleged victims of abuse and have pored over courtrecords and other documents as they weigh whether to ask a grand jury to bring criminal charges. Among the materials under review is information submitted by the archdiocese detailing 35 cases in which the church said it found "credible evidence" of sexual abuse dating back 50 years.

From the NYTimes (LRR): The problems canonists see with Zero Tolerance and what the Vatican might do about it.
From Phoenix, Diocesan vocations director says he could "fill the seminaries with willing candidates.

Uh..okay. So, where are they?

Well, we just had our first sentence. Right this minute.

Sitting on the floor of my study, playing with a little stuffed horse. Covering it with dry washcloths he just brought in from the laundry room.

"Go ni-night!"

You do know that children learn by imitation, right?

A sordid tale of a Carmelite from New York

A sad juxtaposition of words, eh?

A more detailed story.

Theology on Tap has been around for a while - Here's an article about the Green Bay diocese's program.
A commenter on the forgiveness post notes that forgiveness doesn't have to mean allowing a priest who has abused to continue in ministry - of course not. That's where the justice comes in.
A writer notes that this summer was the summer of endangered children:

Alan Guttmacher, then president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, hailed the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 verdict in Roe v. Wade as bringing the nation "a step further toward assuring the birthright of every child to be welcomed by its parents at the time of its birth". The experience of the last 30 years refutes Guttmacher's bizarre notion that abortion protects children's rights. His noble-sounding vision of a society where all children are wanted and welcomed simply masks the selfishness that has flourished over the last several decades.Of course, all children should be wanted and welcome, but public policy that sanctions destroying those who aren't makes adults' desires paramount as it reduces children to the objects of those desires. Is it really any wonder that child molestation and murder plague a society with so vacuous an understanding of their value and their rights?

The Review Board will meet on Monday in Oklahoma City

On Monday, the group hopes to announce the name of the director of the conference's Office of Child and Youth Protection, he said. Panel members also will likely discuss the selection of an organization or group to undertake a study of how the church's current plight evolved and another study determining the seriousness of the clergy sex abuse problem, he said. These two studies, Keating said, were both requested by bishops in June. Keating said perhaps the University of Notre Dame or Boston College would be among the organizations selected to study these issues.Finally, the panel will meet with small groups of clergy sex abuse victims and their representatives, Keating said.

I am very grateful for your contributions to this little blogspot. Your discussion on forgiveness is enlightening and provocative. I guess I should jump in.

For the Christian, forgiveness is not a choice. There is simply no way around this, as much as we argue with it, in all of our pain and our legitimate desire for justice. Jesus commands us to forgive without end, and indeed, when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we tell God that it's okay to forgive us in the same measure that we forgive others.

Two questions arise. The first is: Easier said than done. What does it mean to forgive, then?

First I'll run through a list of what forgiveness isn't.

Forgiveness isn't denying that wrong was done. It's not excusing it. It's not denying the impact of the wrong. It's not a replacement for justice. To me, forgiveness means letting go of the hurt from a wrong as it specifically relates to the wrongdoer. If you hurt me, and I forgive you, I do not deny that you hurt me. I don't say that I'm glad you hurt me. I don't say that I understand why you hurt me. I don't say that I will relate to you as if you had never hurt me (although now we are reaching a point where I'm sure I'll have some argument). It's not saying (as we often do when we're asked forgiveness), "Oh, that's okay. Don't worry about it."

We're saying: You hurt me, but I still see you as a human being. I still understand that you are loved by God. I hope for justice for you, but I do not seek revenge or unjust pain or suffering.

Think of the person who has caused you the most serious harm in your life. What does it mean to forgive him or her? Could you say those words?

But does forgiveness require something more? Does human forgiveness and mercy require a degree of restoration and - love? Does it mean that we must say to the person we're forgiving, "I love you as a brother or sister in Christ?" Does it mean that life must go on as it did before the harm? I don't know.

After all, what is the alternative to forgivness? Anger? Holding on to hurt? Is that what Jesus calls us to?

Quite often, when debating what it means to be a follower of Jesus (in my own head), after I am through rationalizing myself away from the Gospel, I force myself to think in just those terms - what is the alternative?


But forgiveness and mercy is like anything else good. It can be perverted and misused to do further harm. So to the point that many commenters have made: It is a fear, a sneaking supsicion that rhetoric about "forgiveness" has been used to protect priestly predators from justice. It has been used to place the weight of making things right on the victim.

And why is that? It's because mercy has been separated from justice. I'm going to quote at length from a book called The Heart of Virtue by Donald DeMarco. Perhaps it will help:

...mercy is exquisitely poised between the demands of justice and the disposition of the sufferer. 'It does not destroy justice,' as Thomas Aquinas notes, 'but is a certain kind of fulfillment of justice.' 'Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution,' he writes; but also, 'justice without mercy is cruelty.'...'Mercy seasons justice,' as Shakespeare rightly says; but it is not a meal in itself. It needs justice as salt needs the meat it flavors. To pardon the unrepentent is not to offer mercy but to negate justice. Mercy follows justice and perfects it; but it does not replace it. Its essence is not license. Mercy can flourish only when it is in a context of justice. Accordingly, C.S. Lewis has stated that 'Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.'

What seems to be bothering some of us is that in relationship to the present Situation, and all of its satellite issues, is that mercy has, indeed, become divorced from justice. Many of the priestly perpetrators seem to think they have done nothing wrong, or are victims themselves. Church personnel, from their fellow priests, to other enablers, to some bishops, routinely think of these situations in terms of self-protection first, victims last if at all. Perhaps we need to be reminded once again that in the vast majority of these cases, parents or victims (foolishly, perhaps) went to the Church first for help and support. It was only when they were ignored, or told to "forgive," or had the tables turned on them by diocesan-hired pit bull attorneys that the rage escalated.

Which moves us onto justice, which is where I'm going to stop. What does justice demand? When do we know where the line is between justice and vengefulness, or when we have made the mistake of trying to do God's work with our human justice?

As always, I present not a thorough treatment, but simply more food for thought.

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