Aug 30, 2007

What would you do?

The latest L.A. Times news story (click on this post's title) about a case of sex crimes against children reminds me to ask a question. Here it is:

If you were a bishop and one of your priests came to you and admitted to molesting a child or children, or a teenager or teenagers, what would you do?

Now, I know some bishops claim, absurdly, that years ago they didn't know about sex crimes what they know now. So let's just say this admitting-to-molesting scenario happened, say, 30 years ago.

Wouldn't the normal reaction to hearing that from one of your priests be shock, followed by indignation and grief, followed by you lifting his facilities and telling him his priestly career is over, and followed by you telling him that because of his crimes against children you and he must go to the police?

I've never understood how a bishop could think that a man who has committed sex crimes against children or youth could be fit to stay in the priesthood.

Wouldn't you automatically -- automatically! -- think, "We made a big mistake in admitting this man to ordination and, before that, keeping him in the seminary. Either he never had a true vocation to the priesthood or he fell away from his vocation. In either case, he is not able or fit to continue."

The rest of your reaction, of course, would be to see to pastoral care of the victims and their families, and to see to spiritual care for the priest.

Isn't all this what you would do...automatically and right away?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason you haven't gotten any replies to this so far is because pretty much everyone would do exactly as you said, though in my case with colorful profanity (one of the reasons I'm not a bishop).

It's simply baffling that our bishops weren't able to apply simple, basic common sense when this happenned. Worse, their failure to act probably created a permissive environment that encouraged the problem to escalate.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the biggest three faults the bishops committed were:

1) treating the sex abuse cases that were brought to their attention as families do;

2) acceding to family wishes that the cases not be reported to civil authorities; and

3) believing the psychologists and psychiatrists who assured them that abusive priests were fit to be reassigned to ministry after they were treated.

If the bishops only knew then what they know now!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Fred C.,

Thank you for your comments. Yes, simple, basic common sense can serve us all well on all occasions.

And "baffling" is the word for the bishops' the inaction and off-kilter actions.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Liam,

There are well-documented cases around our country of some dioceses not only not following the wishes of victims' families but actually deceiving, browbeating, threatening and even suing them.

Everybody else "knew then" that men who commit crimes against children and youth need to be put out of circulation.

Any bishop who did not "know that" was incompetent or negligent. I say that NOT in hindsight but by what was known at the time.

How could any bishop with any love of the Mass, the priesthood and the Catholic faithful put sex criminals back on the altar?

How could any bishop take the opinion of disciples of the sick, twisted Kinsey over the holy counsel of the saints on what to do with clergy sex criminals?

9:56 PM  
Blogger mikedrabik said...

I only just saw your Blog today.

What would I automatically do if I were Bishop and one of my priests were reported as having raped a child?

I would automatically pick-up the phone; call the police and to the very best I could to get the man arrested and off the streets!

Pastoral care or getting the man out of the priesthood comes second before the safety of the children.

After I am sure the man is safely secured; then turn to every single one of the victims and offer everything that can be offered to for healing BEING sure to admit my own role in covering it up and taking any consequences for my complicity in it.

Finally, I would earnestly begin the process of the getting the man defrocked as soon as the conviction was finalized.

Your comments elicit from me a "My gosh man - where the heck have been?"

You're from L.A. Haven't you seen the movie "Deliver Us From Evil" - the story of Fr. Oliver O'Grady and his victims? He is a true and extremely dangerous pedophile who raped hundreds of children aged 9 months to 12 years old over 20 year period and who is now wandering around loose in Ireland.

And he was just ONE of the priests out there in California who did these things.

I am just as pro-life as you are sir. But I sit before my monitor with my mouth agape at your utter cluelessness.

Your Archbishop committed criminal acts by hiding O'Grady and others. He needs to spend time in prison, sir.

Justice demands it. Forgiveness is one thing, but granting license or permissiveness disguised as such is never excusable.

The first thing always to be done AUTOMATICALLY is call the police and NOT inform the Diocese whose ultimate goal is NOT the protection of children, but the protection of power. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER report it to the Diocese before the police are told and have conducted an investigation. Instead, let the Bishop and his minions only find out when the accused makes his phone call from jail. Nobody else in this nation accused of such a crime would be accorded that kind of privilege and therefore neither should any member of our clergy or any other agent of our Church.

8:38 PM  

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