Over the months, I have written at length about Kansas City Bishop Finn's dreadful handling of a sex abuse case in his diocese, and have taken quite a bit of heat from the True Believers, who swallow uncritically the cult-like notion that criticizing a bishop who endangers children is the equivalent of hating Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. (If you really want to have fun, read the whole series here).
|Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers|
I won't go into details, since if you're interested you can find the details at this link and elsewhere. But let me point out a few similarities.
- Bishops, apparently, have unlimited hubris. Bishop Finn spent $1.4 million of diocesan funds to defend himself from criminal charges that threatened only a few thousand dollars in fines and that could easily have been plea bargained away, but that resulted in his conviction in criminal court. This is not because Finn was bravely defending the Church, for part of the case, in one Missouri county, involved a plea agreement, in which Finn glibly handed over ecclesial authority to a governmental entity so as to avoid prosecution. Bishop Myers, likewise, is going to the matt on this one, in a case where a cursory investigation shows he behaved without any regard to the safety of the children under his care and without any concern for an agreement he had made with prosecutors to keep child molester Fr. Fugee out of jail. Does it appear as if Bishop Myers is standing firm to protect the Church? No, as in Finn's case, it's to protect his own pride.
- Bishops, apparently, don't give a damn about the truth. The most liberating words ever spoken on earth are "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). But in a February letter to priests, Bishop Myers defends his decision to allow Fugee to disregard the agreement the bishop made with prosecutors by claiming that Fugee was "acquitted" of the charges against him. Fugee was in fact acquitted of one charge, "endangering the welfare of a child" but convicted of "aggravated criminal sexual conduct". While this conviction was reversed on appeal over a technicality, a new trial was ordered and was avoided because of a plea agreement, the terms of which the archdiocese is now thumbing its nose at. In other words, had the defendant indeed been acquitted of the charges against him, none of this would be an issue.
- The True Believers will stop at nothing to defend bad bishops. They eat up stuff like this: demagogue Bill Donohue of the Catholic League begins his defense of Bishop Myers thus, "Left-wing Catholics, and ex-Catholics, tried in vain to get Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph to step down, and now they have their sights set on Newark Archbishop John Myers. Their goal is to bring down a bishop—any bishop." Well, Bill, I'm no left-winger, I'm no ex-Catholic, and my goal is to reform the Church I love - oh, and to protect children from sexual abuse. But the card that's played in these cases, apparently, is the "us vs. them" paranoia card. We see this in America all the time. Hate your opponent and you don't have to consider his position.
- Again, the "media" is blamed for bias when the "media" can be bypassed entirely. As with the Bishop Finn case, the original documents are available online. But the True Believers refuse to read them. One commenter on Mark Shea's site asserted that the police had forced a confession out of Fr. Fugee. But, you see, he had not bothered to read the confession, which every person on earth can do by clicking this link. A less intense interrogation one could not imagine. But this is just another example of the "us vs. them" paranoia card. If you don't want to admit that a priest happily fondled the genitals of an under-age boy, then tarnish the police force and the criminal justice system along with it.
And all I can say about this is what I said in Shea's combox regarding bishops who enable child abuse ...
It is not surprising that our shepherds fall short of the high standards of the Christian Faith. It is surprising that they don't even rise to the low standards of the secular world.