Friday, August 22, 2014

Our Bishops and Cardinals Just Keep on Truckin'

Cardinal Pell, in open court, in front of victims of sexual abuse, speaking via webcam from the Vatican ...
likened the Catholic Church’s responsibility for child abuse to that of a ”trucking company”. If a driver sexually assaulted a passenger they picked up along the way, he said, ”I don’t think it appropriate for the … leadership of that company be held responsible.”

What a completely stupid, crass, unfeeling, unchristian, unspiritual, vulgar and awful thing to say.  One of the lawyers involved corrected Pell's analogy ...

Warrnambool lawyer George Foster of Maddens Lawyers labelled the comments as “appalling”.
“I act for people who have been the subject of sexual abuse (and) Cardinal Pell’s analogy given to the royal commission likening the church’s legal liability to abused children as that of a truck company whose driver molested hitchhikers is appalling,” he said.
“May I suggest a more appropriate one: A boss who knows or suspects that his driver deliberately flouts the road laws continues to send him out on jobs.
“Late one night the driver sees a hitchhiker, deliberately lines him up and runs over him. The driver gets out of the truck, goes back to the hitchhiker, further assaults him and robs him.
“The driver then gets back into the truck, reverses over the stricken hitchhiker several times and then drives off while “flicking the bird” to the hitchhiker through his open cabin window.
“The driver then goes back to the depot and tells his boss what has happened. His boss tells him to clean the blood and guts off the bull bar, to tell no one and if challenged say that it was all the hitchhiker’s fault.”

But apparently Cardinal Pell has been using this strategy for quite some time.  Rocco Palmo, nearly ten years ago, outlines Cardinal Pell's "legal strategy" in defending one of his abusive priests ...

[T]he church argues it cannot be held liable for any damages claim because Duggan was not employed by the Sydney Archdiocese. Rather, priests have "a contract with God" and not with their employer. 

Righhht.  (Dear Lord, how can these bishops sleep at night?)

And, back in 1997, Bishop Egan of Bridgeport, Connecticut ...

... testified that his diocese cannot be held liable for the misconduct of a priest because priests are ``self-employed.'' They work in parishes that are corporations and are paid by them, not the diocese, he explained.

He said this and then went on to defend an internal diocesan memo that urged everyone to lie about this particular priest's absence.  "Tell people he's on leave because he has hepatitis; don't tell anybody he's been sent to a psychiatric facility because he's been molesting altar boys."  That's a paraphrase, but I am not making this story up. 

And apparently, the archdiocese of Miami, like the archdiocese of St. Louis, classified (until recently) its priests as "independent contractors" so as to avoid paying the employer's share of social security and medicare taxes.  Sometimes the "independent contractor" argument is valid ... but a priest is not a trucker, and these bishops are not leasing out to owner / operators.  And abused altar boys are not hitchhikers thumbing a lift on the side of the road, aware of the dangers they may be facing.

And just so you have a sense of what's really going on here, and what these men are enabling and excusing ...

A HUNTER [Australia] man wept in a courtroom on Friday as he asked the questions that expose the tragedy of child sexual abuse.
"What could I have been? What would my life have been like?" asked the man known as ST, as defrocked Catholic priest John Denham, 72, sat metres away in a glass-enclosed dock.
ST told a sentencing hearing at the Sydney Downing Centre court that he struggled with suicide every day because those questions could never be answered.
"I hate life. I look forward to the day I die," he said in a statement read to Judge Helen Syme by his legal representative, Nicola Ellis.
ST was Denham's student at St Pius X High School, Adamstown, in the 1970s.
Denham is being sentenced after pleading guilty in August last year to 25 child sex charges including buggery, violent oral sex and indecent assault involving 18 boys, aged 11, 12 and 13, at Singleton, Wingham and St Pius X in the 1970s. He accepted another 23 indecent assault charges had occurred.
It is the third round of sentencing in 14 years for Denham, after he was convicted in 2010 of crimes against 39 boys aged 5-16 and sentenced to remain in jail until at least 2022.
He was first sentenced in 2000 for child sex crimes against a 14-year-old, and received a two-year suspended sentence.
The suicide of one of Denham's victims, Belmont North man John Pirona, was the catalyst for the Newcastle Herald campaign for a royal commission into child sexual abuse.  
In court on Friday, Judge Syme, who described Denham as a sadistic priest when she sentenced him in 2010, helped another Hunter victim, known as PM, read his statement to the court after he sobbed to a halt.
PM described how he arrived at St Pius X as a small and vulnerable child, whose parents and a stepfather died before he was 10.
"I believe the Catholic school system should have protected me from my abuser," PM said. "The Catholic Church should have investigated, but what it did was protect the abuser."
In brief evidence, Denham told the court St Pius X school principal, the late priest Tom Brennan, never spoke to him about allegations from students and others that Denham was a sexual offender.
Father Brennan died in 2012 after he was charged with concealing Denham's crimes, and sexually assaulting a child. Father Brennan was convicted in 2009 of making a false statement to police in which he said he knew nothing about Denham's offences.
Judge Syme will sentence John Denham at a later date. 

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