Monday, November 12, 2007

Personal Asides: Look Up Media Watch Today on, Chicago Daily Observer…Jim DeLeo and Ben Joravsky Score on “Shoot Out”…Read the LA Times Nov. 11, Jason Berry’s Op Ed

Media Watch III.

Weekly review of the media, Media Watch III, will be found today at the Chicago Daily Observer website .

DeLeo & Joravsky.

The team of State Sen. Jim DeLeo and “Reader” columnist Ben Joravsky scored well on my WLS-AM (890) radio show last night. Ben is always good but the assistant Senate majority leader was starkly independent as he agreed with Joravsky on the minimal importance of the Olympics. Seeing a top legislator take an independent position on a subject of this importance to the leader of his party rekindles in me anyhow admiration for leaders of Jim’s caliber.

None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See.

There is absolutely no stopping a fast rushing train roaring down the track: thus the election of Francis Cardinal George as president of the U. S. Conference of Bishops Tuesday is inevitable. And so I congratulate the prelate for assuming this top job…but there is no doubt that in almost any other body that pursues democratic processes the election would be sidetracked.

Read Jason Berry in the “Los Angeles Times” yesterday, Nov. 11. It’s an Op Ed. Berry, the author of the books “Lead Us Not into Temptation” and (with Gerald Renner) “Vows of Silence,” is directing a documentary on the priestly pedophilia problem. He starts off the article with a quotation from Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Ill. in 2004. Bishop Gregory, then president of the USCCB proclaimed after two years of investigations into the priestly pedophilia matter that “The scandal is history.”

Berry asks: “Did the church really learn its lesson? Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, is currently preparing to assume the presidency of the Conference of Catholic Bishops whose annual meeting begins Monday [today] in Baltimore. His new position would make George highly visible when Pope Benedict XVI arrives on his first trip to the U. S. next Spring which is fitting because George was a valuable ally of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when the cardinals’ conclave chose him to be pope in 2005.

“The problem is that George show little indication of having internalized the lessons of the scandal. He displays a stunning in sensitivity to the church’s failures. And twice since the 2002 conference in Dallas that adopted the youth protection charter, George has flouted the church’s supposed zero-tolerance attitude in his handling of abusive priests.

“In February, 2003 for instance, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Fr. Kenneth Martin of Wilmington, Del. A consultant to the archdiocese on liturgical texts had been staying at the cardinal’s mansion during his monthly visits to Chicago. He had been staying there despite the fact that he had pleaded guilty in 2001 in Maryland to sexually abusing a teenage boy over three years in the 1970s when he was a lay teacher. Martin received a suspended sentence and was declared by the diocese to be a `priest in good standing’ in Wilmington, provided he not do public ministry.

“Needless to say, this was shocking newsd. The members of the 12-person National Review Board which had been appointed by the Conference of Catholic Bishops to conduct research on the causes and context of the scandal and report back with recommendations on how to avoid future scandals had met with George just the day before the story broke in the Sun-Times---yet he had told them nothing about the priest’s visit. What could be more telling about George’s attitude that his willingness to welcome an admitted pedophile as a houseguest?

“When Sun-Times reporter Cathleen Falsani asked George why hje had allowed Martin to stay in his official residence after his misdeeds had become known and why the priest was still working for the archdiocese as a consultant, George did not apologize but defended his colleague. `Are we saying that people with any kind of question in their past are not employable?’ he responded. `Unless we want to say these people are simply permanent pariahs, is it appropriate to put his life under scrutiny in that way?’

“`When I read the Sun-Times,’ said former Rep. Leon Panetta, a California Democrat who served on the National Review Board and was one of those who had met with George that week, `it confirmed for me what is at the heart of this [pedophile priest] problem—the hierarchy’s failure to understand the seriousness of the crisis.’

“Members of the National Review Board made a second trip to Chicago nearly a year later to consult with the cardinal. George celebrated Mass for them but according to three sources present at the meeting, he issued a warning over coffee and doughnuts: `You will be the downfall of the Church!.’

“The group was dumbstruck. `The bishops and priests have failed to deal with this [scandal],’ Panetta said he told George. The healing process could not begin, Panetta said, unless the church acknowledged the problem.

“Several people present at the meeting subsequently confirmed George’s remarks before I called the cardinal for comment for an article for the National Catholic Reporter. George’s spokesman called me back to say, `The cardinal categorically denies making the statement attributed to him and anyone who said that he said that either heard him wrong or misunderstood him.’

“But matters got worse. In August, 2005, police questioned Fr. Daniel McCormack of Chicago after a mother charged that he had molested her 8-year-old son at Our Lady of the Wayside school where he taught in October. George ignored his own archdiocesan review board’s recommendation to remove McCormack, instead allowing him to continue teaching and coaching. In January, 2006, McCormack was arrested on charges of sexually abusing another boy at the school.. When asked about it, the cardinal incredulously said he had taken no action because he had had no information from law enforcement. McCormack has since pleaded guilty and gone to jail.

“The archdiocese did take action against Barbara Westrick, the school’s principal, who had called the police after she learned of the complaint against the priest. She was fired in June. Although the archndiocese denies it, it seems likely that her criticisms of the church’s response cost her her job.

“A reform group, Voice of the Faithful, has called on George not to assume the presidency of the Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Despite all the supposed reforms and despite the new guidelines and rules that were supposed to have taken care of the problems several years ago, the reality is that many members of the church hierarchy have been slow to change their attitude.

“Listen to the words of Thomas J. Papro9cki, one of George’s auxiliary bishops in Chicago. Paprocki who has a law degree and church license in canon law gave a sermon Oct. 15 for the Red Mass, a gathering of lawyers and jurists, in Grand Rapids, Mich. The bishop scorned the church’s escalating financial losses to victims of predatory priests. `The church is under attack,’ Paprocki declared, comparing the civil litigation to Henry VIII’s seizure of `church property and kill[ing] those who did not accept his notion of the supremacy of the crown.’

“Displaying the callousness that has cursed so many Catholic bishops for so long, Paprocki insulted the victims of the scandals as well as the attorneys and judges in their cases with these words: `We must use our religious discernment to recognize that the principal force behind these attacks is none other than the devil.’

“The youth protection charter says that a priest accused of child abuse must be removed until his case is resolved. For bishops who conceal or move or condone such priests, there is no penalty. They serve at the pleasure of the pope. That double standard—which strikes a lot of us Catholics as devilish—is personified in Cardinal Francis George who is unfit to be president of the Catholic bishops.”


I submit this article as part of this website—not because I agree with it in every instance but because for the most part the objections of those to the Cardinal’s accession has received little attention in Chicago media (with the exception of Channel 2 CBS-TV) and a reference buried deeply in a story about George in Sunday’s Tribune..

On two items I do disagree with Berry. The prerogative of naming and removing bishops must remain with the pope, not with a civil or extra-religious process—otherwise the apostolic appointment and removal powers would be usurped. However Berry’s criticisms of the bishops being derelict are right-on and the fact that local dioceses and Rome itself being derelict have much substance and credibility.

With respect to Bishop Paprocki’s statement, knowing him and having discussed matters with him in depth in private, I think the reproduction of these words in Berry’s article does not reflect the bishop’s views in their entirety. Paprocki recognizes that however regrettable and abominable the abuses were, they have been capitalized on by lawyers and others who despise the Church and wish to litigate it out of existence. Having interviewed on both sides of the issue myself, I share Paprocki’s view that a hatred exists in some litigators that would relish driving the Church into penury and in some dioceses virtually out of existence..

Whether as Paprocki says it is Satan’s wish or not I leave to theologians. However there is no doubt that the overwhelming burden of Berry’s article—that there has been a cavalier ignoring of the importance of disciplining and turning records over to the police and in fact hiding facts that has put children in danger…an ignoring that goes to the chanceries (including in Chicago) and ultimately in the Roman bureaucracy and curia…a dereliction that constitutes the everlasting shame of the Church in this age… is true without question.

1 comment:

  1. Tom what you are saying about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church makes me feel ill and deeply troubled about its future. What is going on in the Catholic Church starts to sound like the proverbial "good ole boy" network of one person covering for another mixed with liberalism.

    But then there are those who take sinister pleasure in going after the Catholic Church just like they relished the fall of Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Baaker. They enjoyed putting pins in the "religious right doll".

    It is telling when you see that these failings are related to sex. Yet it is sexual freedom the left relishes right down to their love of abortion and all forms of deviant sex and even NAMBLA. In their rainbow sense of perverted enlightenment they shout "live and let live" and "our strength is our diversity" to the point of demanding sensitivity or diversity training for the acceptance of deviancy!

    And yet with a twisted sense of high brow hypocrisy they ignored what Bill Clinton did! Or even what Barney Frank did while they excoriated a Republican like Sen. Craig........

    On the other hand, the sordid activities of some priests IS wrong and can not be justified, swept under the rug, or ignored. The problem is that a mushy, moderate, liberalism has been festering inside the Catholic Church for decades. Is it any wonder it would lead to sexual immorality of one kind or another? For the sake of discussion lets call these moderates neo-catholics. They are very intellectual in their moderate stance and to many they are convincing. In the beginning when the Church structures went Contemporary, and Latin left and the Guitars came in, many thought HOW MODERN, HOW GREAT! How NEO-CATHOLIC! But then came the sexual deviancy and the downright anti-Catholic teachings from leftist Preists. Then comes the arrogant "good ole boy" effective white wash.

    What do we do with these people? Celebrate them? In politics people to looked to term limits. Term limits for priests.

    Probably not.... but the issue comes back to what do you do about such glaring departure from traditional morality as it decends into neo-morality? Do we simply accept the neo-morality as the new norm? How many of the ancient teachings do we toss out and where does it end?

    A hardliner paleo-Catholic would say bring in mass excommunications......., have an inquisition, and return to tradition and historic values and morality.

    A neo-Catholic would label that person a WACKO moral extremist who belongs in a cage....

    Mr. Roeser we must start asking the question: Are there any standards left? Are we supposed to throw traditional values to the wind?

    By now you KNOW where I am heading with this.

    Why must I or society change or bend to the thinking of the cutesy intellectual neos whether it be in religion or politics? Their road leads to moral relevance and destruction of the institution that they were welcomed into! To join them is to become part of the problem, isn't it!

    Ask yourself why the Republican Party or the Catholic Church is in serious trouble. The problem lies with the infestation, arrogance, political correctness, and good ole boy network of the neos.

    To save the institution you may have to "excommunicate them" and return to traditional values.

    Think about it Tom. But then according to you, I belong in a "cage" for holding such views.............