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What would Jesus do? Probably not this...

The Boston archdiocese was pretty much the epicenter of the pedophile priest scandal, and it cost the Catholic Church dearly. It was the Boston Globe that first brought the story fully into the light, with repeated tales of priests abusing young parishioner boys, and of Church higher-ups buying off their families and promising the "wayward priests" would be taken care of -- most often by transferring them to a new, unsuspecting parish, with glowing letters of recommendations in their pockets.

So far, the church has admitted to paying out over $40 million in settlement claims (almost always with a confidentiality clause, thus earning the title in my book of "hush money"), and observers speculate outstanding claims could run the total into nine figures. At least four priests have ended up in prison. Former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law barely escaped indictment on technicalities (he couldn't be proven to have KNOWN the priests would molest again, and the statute of limitations had expired), left in disgrace and was kicked upstairs to Rome.

To settle these claims, the Archdiocese of Boston had to raise money, fast. For understandable reasons, appeals to the faithful were less than stellar successes. That's when they decided to have a real estate fire sale. They sold off a lot of parish properties, including closing and selling off churches. And at the peak of the scandal, over 60% of diocese leaders in the United States had actively covered for sex abusers.

But for some, their roles in the scandal could be considered good career moves. Bernard Law, now safely ensconced in the Vatican, played a major role in the mourning of Pope John Paul II. And Law's former right-hand man, John McCormack, who personally handled most of these matters, also escaped prosecution and was promoted to the Bishopric of New Hampshire.

But back to my point... the laity did NOT take the closings of churches well. Some occupied the churches, refusing to leave the building unless the new Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, relented. Some are suing the archdiocese, trying to convince the courts that they, not the Church, own the lands. When Bishop McCormack was scheduled to celebrate the Mass at the Baccalaureate at St. Anselm College (a Catholic college here in Manchester), over 50 students signed a petition asking him to not attend -- and some even boycotted their own ceremony in protest.

But now we get to the latest news. Last year, as part of cost-cutting measures, the Archdiocese announced that it was closing the Our Lady of Presentation School in Brighton and was going to use the building for tribunals on marriage annulments and priestly sex abuse. An effort by parents (and an extremely generous offer by Secretary of State and devout Catholic Bill Galvin to extend a line of credit to the Church to keep the school open. The church agreed to a one-year extension: the school would close on June 10, 2005.

During the last year, the parents collected money and pledges, and put forward a plan: they would buy the school from the church for $2 million dollars and keep it open, adding evening adult-education classes.

The archdiocese looked at the offer, and made up their minds: the school would not close on June 10 after all.

Instead, on the evening of June 8, without any warning, they closed it and locked the doors. (They said they had heard rumors of a planned occupation, like in the case of some churches, but offered no proof of the allegation.) The hundred or so students found themselves locked out, with no graduation ceremony as planned, no last day to say their goodbyes to staffers, teachers, and friends, nothing. One teacher even said she had bought a cake for her students and left it in a fridge in the school, but church officials wouldn't let her retrieve it.

The high-handedness of the church has outraged many, both inside and outside the faith. Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald gave extensive coverage to the school's closing. (I defy anyone of any faith, or none, to see the picture of the two former students in the Globe and not feel moved.) Boston's Mayor Menino, of whom I am no fan, immediately offered the use of historic Faneuil Hall for the canceled graduation ceremonies. Local talk shows have been bombarded with calls from infuriated Catholics, who vow to drastically curtail their financial support for the Church. One woman said her sister-in-law now gives her offering money directly to the local utilities, to be sure her money goes to support her local church and doesn't fall under the control of the Archdiocese. They still have their faith in God, but not in all of His shepherds.

As I've said before, I'm no Catholic, and I have no great fondness for the Church. But I think that anyone who does not see these actions as nothing more but arrogance and a desire to reassert the power it once held.

But those days are long, long past. The flock are sheep no longer. And if the shepherds don't recognize that, the next list of 95 theses will be e-mailed around the world.


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Comments (26)

So this is it, Jay Tea? Yo... (Below threshold)

So this is it, Jay Tea? You fashion yourself as the next Martin Luther, ready to pounce around the world with 95 thesis? Please post them now, and while the rest of us yawn, you can go back to your iconoclastic bigoted ways of picking on the Mormons, the Muslims and the Catholics with such wordy glee. In your next post, I invite you to explain why Jesus would want you tearing down the various religions of the world, most especially the dominant Christian faith in the world. He taught repentance and the forgiveness of sin, which is what the Catholic hierarchy actually practiced during the priest scandal, to their own financial detriment. They practice what Jesus preached, for you see, money is not the measure of righteousness. That is what Jesus and the tax collectors taught us. The priest scandal, by the way, is ancient news, except for those with a fabulous hate for the church.

Jay,You may want t... (Below threshold)
Brian Day:


You may want to read this to get a local Catholic's perspective:

(Updated by Jay Tea to change text into hyperlink to referred article -- please pardon my presumptuousness, Brian.)

Cardinal Law's job included... (Below threshold)

Cardinal Law's job included protecting those kids. He fell down on the job.

His disgrace is permanent.

Woah McCain, chill a bit. "... (Below threshold)

Woah McCain, chill a bit. "Fabulous hate for the church?" "Tearing down the religions of the world?" All I read is Jay criticizing the inexplicably stupid actions of people who act (however negligently) as leaders of the Church-- not The Church ---

And the "priest scandal" is not ancient news as long as Church property continues to be sold and its missions (like this school) ended in order to pay its repentence (a.k.a legal settlement).

This is not a lesson to be soon forgotten -- remember, it went on for twenty years (or more) not out of ignorance -- and it is not bigotry against The Church to continue to point out the (monumental) blunders its leaders continue to make.

If the Catholic Church here does not do well, it is hardly because people like Jay blog about its mistakes -- he is absolutely right about the flock.

McCain, go look up the word... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

McCain, go look up the words "prophet" and "prognosticator." My aspirations are strictly oriented towards the latter.

As an outsider, I see a Church that once held nigh-absolute power acting as if it still did, and the faithful getting more and more dissatisfied with the actions of the leadership. Sooner or later, if things continue as they are now, there very likely will be another schism in the Church, and as before, the main part will be terribly weakened. That's what happened before, and I see many signs that it just might happen again on a smaller scale in Boston.

I'll leave the Messiah complexes to those whose faith is a bit stronger than this born-again agnostic's, if that's all right with you.


Completely disagree, Jay. ... (Below threshold)

Completely disagree, Jay. The Church deserves every bit of critism it's gotten over the priest abuse and subsequent coverup, but it's their immature, petulant, whiny parishoners who ought to be ashamed of themselves now. Barricading yourselfs in Churches to prevent them from being closed? Assinine. If the Church decides it needs to sell its property to pay debts, that's its business. If parishoners don't like it, write a letter. Quit the Church. But don't act like you're the victim of some grievous wrong.

And as for those two weepy brats in the picture, maybe they ought to grow up.

Yeah, McCain. It's "ancient... (Below threshold)

Yeah, McCain. It's "ancient news". Let's just let by-gones be by-gones, eh?

So what if they aided and abetted in thousands of little boys getting raped in the ass?

"He taught repentance and the forgiveness of sin, which is what the Catholic hierarchy actually practiced during the priest scandal,..."

Um...no, they practiced the facilitating of the forced anal and oral rape of little boys. Funny, the bible doesn't make any mention of that course of action.

Well, I'm a Catholic baptis... (Below threshold)

Well, I'm a Catholic baptised in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the seat of the Boston archdiocese. I see no anti-Catholicism in this posting. Theories about schism related to this latest debacle are a stretch, but as noted in the post Boston and other dioceses hardly need look far for reasons to think ill of the heirarchy.

I can only hope there's another side to this story, but good luck to me on that one.

I do agree with Spoons' poi... (Below threshold)

I do agree with Spoons' point that the parishoners who turned a blind eye to the crisis in the earlier days, out of devotion to the curch (at all costs), wouldn't be in the position they're in now had they stood up to the church way back when.

At least, I think that was the point he was making.

As I'm fond of saying, "What do I know, I'm just an angry blogger".

"And as for those two weepy... (Below threshold)

"And as for those two weepy brats in the picture, maybe they ought to grow up."

Yeah! They should stop acting like the adolescents that they are and aspire to be like the paragon of maturity: Spoons. I mean, to get emotional over a school that they grew up in? A school where they met their best friends, learned from favorite (and not-so-favorite) teachers and had experiences (field trips, concerts, plays, etc.) that they will remember for the rest of their lives? HOW DARE THEY!!!!!

Hmmm.There does se... (Below threshold)


There does seem to be an extraordinary amount of rot in the Catholic Church. Anyone remember the gyrations that went on when the bishops met to discuss how to deal with the sex abuse cases?

My best friend is a very devout Catholic. But it looks like those in the hierarchy need lessons in humility. Well the Church will either prosper or wither. It's up to the heirarchy to determine which.

Jay, the church has held, h... (Below threshold)

Jay, the church has held, holds today, and will continue to hold absolute power over its own faith. It is acting as it should for those who adopt the Catholic faith. That faith includes forgiveness and absolution for sin. If these priests were absolved for their sins, the faith demands no further punishment. GOOD

But the church does not hold absolute power over the sheephold. The sheep can leave any day of the week, and join more liberal sects withing Christianity. It happens everyday. Perhaps that is the schism you are panting about -- a schism of one each time it happens.

But as you lament (or celebrate?) your shrill prognostications of doom for the church, you are viewing this within the narrow tunnel-vision of your own very obtuse outsider’s lense. US Catholics represent 16% of world Catholics. World Catholics are overwhelmingly defenders of the faith, so to speak, and even in the US, Catholics overwhelming support a new Pope who embodies defense of the faith. And the Catholic faith community is growing leaps and bounds around the world. It is thriving. In short, you have absolutely no basis for claims that the faithful are dissatisfied in any meaningful way. But let me know when the Boston rebels finally make their break.

- This institutionalized ar... (Below threshold)

- This institutionalized arrogance of power in the older organizations is not new. It seems to be a hazard of almost any large enterprise. Make no mistake. What ever else it has evolved to the church is nothing if not an enterprise. As state lodge historian for the Cal masonic lodge, I experienced the same sort of mindset in various ways that, in spite of my protestations to the contrary, fell on deaf ears and 40 years later you see the results. Admitedly we're not talking pediphelia, nothing that gross or twisted, but still a steady erosion of following, simply because of rigid, arrogant thinking, and a refusal to recognize the need for unselfish planning and change. The good news is that reform will occur one way or another, with or without the cooperation of the church hierarchy. Its inevitable.....

McCain, the Pope forgave th... (Below threshold)

McCain, the Pope forgave the man who tried to kill him,but he did so IN THE PRISON where the guy was serving time for his crime.

Forgiveness and absolution are two different concepts. You can forgive someone while at the same time, insist that they be held legally accountable for their actions.

I read your comments and it seems you're letting these rapists off the hook with an "I'm sorry" and an "Our Father" or two. Do you not understand what these "men of God" DID to these children.

McCain: I hold no "fabulous... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

McCain: I hold no "fabulous hate" for the church, just a deep loathing for anyone who preys on children. That loathing increases exponentially when the perpetrator operates from a position of trust.

And how dare you suggest that the raping of young children by priests is "ancient news"? Shame.

I do think the sex scandals... (Below threshold)

I do think the sex scandals have been used and abused by some of the Church's enemies, but that hardly makes someone like Jay Tea one of them. Frankly, we faithful Catholics need to do more about this whole thing.

And it's sad to see the leaders of the Church using the money they hold in trust for the faithful to buy their way out of personal accountability, much as some corporate criminals get away with having punishment inflicted on their shareholders instead of themselves. Churches, corporations and armies don't go astray by themselves; they do so when individuals fall into error, sin or crime. It's the individuals who need to be held accountable.

Speaking solely about this ... (Below threshold)

Speaking solely about this particular incident, and as a Catholic, while it could have been handled better (rescheduling the graduation themselves instead of letting Mumbles do it for his own publicity) the Church has every right to close the building early to prevent a sit-in or the like.

As wrong as the Church has been lately, the parishioners of local churches have been out of control. I have no problem cutting them off before they get started.

I defy anyone of any fai... (Below threshold)

I defy anyone of any faith, or none, to see the picture of the two former students in the Globe and not feel moved.

I'm not moved. They are 10 and 11 yrs old. What graduation? So, now they will attend a new school. Big deal. They were told a year ago that the school would close. That it closed two days early (omg!), they can blame on the people conspiring to break the law.

"Forgiveness and absolution... (Below threshold)

"Forgiveness and absolution are two different concepts. You can forgive someone while at the same time, insist that they be held legally accountable for their actions."--Bruce

You are confusing church law with civil law. "Absolution" is enough under church law. Those priests will go to heaven if they were absolved, and there is no jail at the local parish office. Civil law is an entirely different path, so you can and should continue to hold them accountable under the separate set of civil laws.

This thread, of course, is not about priest accountability. It is an attack on the Catholic faith system, manufacturing a schism between the faith and its followers, concluding in this laughably naïve zinger:

….."But I think that anyone who does not see these actions as nothing more but arrogance and a desire to reassert the power it once held. But those days are long, long past. The flock are sheep no longer. And if the shepherds don't recognize that, the next list of 95 theses will be e-mailed around the world."….

That is the silly part that anyone with a sense of the Catholic faith and the church is laughing about. The church is thriving around the world, continuing and accelerating its growth as the dominant Christian sect in the world. That will continue despite the little bee bees that disapproving outsiders shoot at us, outsiders who pretend to Know that Christ has a better idea.

The number of Catholics wor... (Below threshold)

The number of Catholics worldwide has doubled since 1975. It is now well over 1 billion. Sort of defies Wizbang's monthly doom and gloom predictions.

McCain,The Bible i... (Below threshold)


The Bible is very specific that to obtain absolution one must be repentant. How many priests caught in this scandal are truly repentant? How many of them are bailing water as fast as they can to keep from drowning in the consequences of their actions? I'd imagine there are some on both sides of the repentance fence, but giving absolution to all the priests and shuffling them through the deck is no way to handle a crisis like this.

What I don't understand is why the RCC tried to cover it up for so long. They had to know that in the long run people would find out. Don't they read the Bible?

If the leaders of the RCC would've just addressed the problem as it came up and truly punished those responsible in a public manner, I doubt there would be this much trouble going on. And who knows, perhaps such public punishment (inside and outside of the Church, including the courts and such) would've stopped some priests from doing the same.

And don't think this problem is only within the RCC; it exists inside Protestant churches, too.

Yes, of course pedophilia e... (Below threshold)

Yes, of course pedophilia exists in other Christian sects. But you won't find criticism here of the Baptists, Lutherans, Presbeterians, or any other liberal Christian sects stemming from the reformation. Catholics have a special place in the crosshairs. Oh yeah, except for the Mormons. Jay thinks they suck too.

About your first point, absolution is ultimately determined by what is in the heart of the sinner. If the sinner is truly repentant, he can be absolved of sin. If not, the words of a very human priest cannot save him. So if unrepentant priests managed to fool the hierarchy, that is the product of a faith system which claims a soverign relationship between individual men and God.

And public punishment, flogging, embarrassment, harrassment, or other scorn, has no place in this faith system. Catholics don't use scarlet letters. But sure, things would have been easier if the Catholic hierarchy had ignored the faith, but I just don't see that as possible or desirable.

I'm not a Catholic but know... (Below threshold)

I'm not a Catholic but know a lot of good people that are. There was some bad stuff going on with the Priest and young boys but you have to temper that with the known fact that a large percentage of those making claims is for the money only. There is not much one can do to disprove their claims so they get paid. I'd venture on my own to make an estimate that better that 75% of the claims are phony. Where there is money the cockroaches come out of the woodwork.

Is there pedophelia in othe... (Below threshold)

Is there pedophelia in other church bodies? Yes. But do you suppose the reason it is so prevolent in the Catholic church could be the man-made law of the celibacy of Priests? I mean these are just men, with physical desires. They have been surrounded by men all through school and now boys are surrounding them. Is it good for man to be alone?

Yes, it is good for man to ... (Below threshold)

Yes, it is good for man to be alone, especially priest. Read Corinthians for Christ's guidance on this topic. By the way, most pedophiles are married. There isn't a statistical relationship between married/single and pedophilia.

Did you miss the first part... (Below threshold)

Did you miss the first part of the chapter of which you speak? Obviously, there IS an immorality problem, thus they should be married. One more question, because as you guessed I am not Catholic....when a Priest makes a vow to God, then breaks it, what should happen to that person?






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