This doesn’t look good. It’s not about the Archdiocese of Milwaukee either. It’s really about the person who was in charge of the Archdiocese in 2003 when the Catholic Church decided to offer those priests accused of sexually abusing minors to leave the priesthood. That person happens to be Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and the darling of political conservatives everywhere. Up until this story broke this week, Dolan was the “Great White Hope” who was charged with taking on the Obama Administration over contraception, abortion and healthcare. The media loves him, some Catholics think he might be the first American pope, and his brother bishops have enough confidence in him that they named him to be President of the conference of Catholic Bishops. The sordid details just now emerging from Milwaukee, thanks in large part to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests who courageously called attention to this story, Dolan will now have to explain how it served the best interests of society and the Church in paying for accused priests to go away quietly. It would be difficult not to interpret the offering of hush money in anything but cynical terms. Dolan will surely attempt to get in front of this story, given his well-publicized talent at media relations. But, even for him, this is going to be a tough one. This is more than a PR snafu. This is a wound on the level of credibility and integrity. He’s got some explaining to do. This indeed doesn’t look good.
With the news over the weekend that the Pope’s personal butler had been arrested for allegedly stealing confidential Vatican documents, rumors began to swirl that perhaps there’s much more to the story than a wayward personal valet of the Pope. After all, most media outlets including Catholic media have noted that such a deception would have had to have involved “higher ups” that had an intimate knowledge of church politics and governance. Some have wondered publicly if the theft has something to do with the beleaguered Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone who’s been linked to the sexual abuse scandal involving deceased Legionaires of Christ founder Marcial Maciel. Some of the documents found in the butler’s residence involved the Legionaires and has led to speculation that the Vatileaks scandal has ties to money and sex abuse. Time will tell.
Kansas City prosecutors have petitioned a judge to add a second criminal charge in addition to the pending charge against Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Bishop Robert Finn. This new criminal would involved failure to report suspicions of child abuse.
According to the Belleville News Democrat, “Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a news release that the original charge covered events from December 2010 to May 2011. The new charge splits that span into two separate time frames.
The first period would cover December 2010 to February 2011, a span in which the church learned of the photographs. During this time, Ratigan also attempted suicide and was sent for medical treatment. The second period would begin Feb. 11, 2011, the date Finn sent Ratigan a letter outlining restrictions on his conduct.”
The Better Pharmaceuticals and Devices for Children Act, sponsored by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, has passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill is designed to drugs and medical devices designed for children safer by strengthening safety regulations and oversight.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote. If the bill passes and is signed into law by the President, enforcement will become the key issue if children are to be protected from dangerous drugs and/or harmful medical devices.
Too bad we haven’t made this much progress with pharmaceutical and medical devices for adults.
Recently installed Archbishop Charles Chaput has announced the fate of 8 of 37 priests whose files the Archdiocese is reviewing regarding allegations of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that five of the eight will be permanently suspended from active ministry. (The MSNBC headline mistakenly read “Priests Defrocked”. Only the Vatican may laicize a priest.) It is widely thought the Archdiocese will petition the Vatican for their laicization. The story has captured headlines less for the actual event than how Chaput’s predecessor had handled these cases. When Justin Cardinal Rigali was the Archbishop of Philadelphia he famously announced that no priest in the Archdiocese who was suspected of abuse was engaged in active ministry. A later investigation found this to be false. The news comes in the midst of the criminal trial of a top priest in Philadelphia who is charged with child endangerment for not intervening in similar child sex abuse cases to protect children.