Priests 5/03/2002

Editor MNH: 5/3/02

Our news media is in one of its periodic hyper modes. Its relentless attention is focused on pedophilic priests specifically, and the Catholic church in general. The accusation against these priests is child abuse. Our media otherwise explicit in sexual details is suddenly coy. I would like to hear specifics. What did these men actually do? Did they rape these youngsters? Did they use seduction? This would be statutory rape. Or was the child abuse a matter of fondling and groping?  Starting with the sixties our public opinion shaping businesses have been hard at work to create a climate of sexual overheating which  includes our children. Drugs and precocious hetero and homosexuality yearly dump thousands of our youngsters on the human rubbish heap. In this context  I consider the sexual groping  of  former priest Geoghan a minor offense for which he got a prison sentence of  8 to 10 years. We look  at our clergy as a moral elite. If they fail we feel our expectations have been betrayed and we react in anger. The law however does not have a category “moral elite.” Under the law we are all supposed to be equal. I  therefore consider the sentence of Geoghan  unduly harsh. 

The rationale for legally plundering the dioceses is the accusation that the hierarchy  shifted pedophilic priests from parish to parish thereby callously ignoring the welfare of our youngsters.  I also accuse the bishops, but not of callous indifference. I fault them for putting their naive trust in the curative power of  Freudian psychotherapy. They sent these priests to treatment centers, hoping they were “cured”, and then they reassigned them. Ann Lander’s mantra  “You need help, you can be cured” even had its effect on the Catholic hierarchy. 

In this imperfect world there always was a gap between legal and just. But this gap is widening into a chasm. The priests are the guilty ones, but the dioceses, the faith communities, have to pay the millions which is claimed by the victims in spite of the fact that the faithful had no say in the assignment of either priests or bishops. The victims demand  millions because they claim their lives have been shattered. Sooner or later in life we all become victims. Profitable victim hood however is only for those who can claim to be victims of a person or an organization with assets. The rest of us have to live with our victim hood as best as we can. There are no assets to plunder for  the thousands of under age male and female prostitutes who are exploited in our inner cities. One man  took their plight to heart, Father Bruce Ritter, founder of Covenant House which gave  food, shelter and counsel to these youngsters.. In 1989 a young male prostitute, Kevin Kite, went to the New York Post and divulged a sexual relationship with Bruce Ritter. The head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office Sex Crime Unit, Linda Fairstein,  gave Kite a tape recorder, but the secretly taped conversation produced no evidence. The damage to Father Bruce’s reputation however was done and he resigned with these words: “I have no way of proving my innocence. My accusers cannot establish my guilt.” There is every indication that  in the near future  a number of priests will be falsely accused as happened to Cardinal Bernadin. Nobody will compensate them.