12/8/09

A Bishop’s Words


As I've pointed out to my friends at Lucianne.com many many times, it would appear the Roman Catholic Church has essentially abandoned all of its Social Teachings in order to become a politicized cheerleader for the Republican Party.

We know the Republicans use abortion as a political wedge issue; essentially a moral rubics cube with no absolute solution in the realm of Public Policy.


Republicans have no viable Public Policy solutions for abortion, and in reality, they know outright ban on abortion would cause more problems than it would solve.

In fact, the status quo for abortion; a regulated legal medical procedure with the locus of responsibility placed at the level of the individual involved, is probably the most enlightened and just public policy we can have.

The only thing that should be added are government social programs aimed at the conditions and environments that produce the most abortions in order to reduce the numbers. Ideas alien to modern Republican Political and Economic philosophy, which the Church now finds itself worshiping.

The key to this, of course, is keeping the procedures, controls and statistics visible so factors can be acted upon; not drive the world of abortions underground as it was before creating a black market in the criminal realm. Given that, draconian bans are in fact counterproductive, and, as I said, would not necessarily prevent a single abortion.

The Catholic Church should be morally against abortions. And, actually, the Catholic Church has every right to comment on Public Policy. But why does it think statutory bans on abortion are going to suppress the practice in any way?

Why does it not, instead, tap into its vast Social Teachings and preach enlightened governance that addresses the societal and economic factors making abortion appear to be a viable solution for the women seeking them?

The Church has the tools. The Church once had the wisdom. But what has happened?

The answer to the "why" is the Church itself is suffering the wages of its own sins against God's flock, and has been blinded to everything other than its own self preservation.

The Catholic Church has compromised its own principles and teachings in many ways, favoring the mindless bumper-sticker Christianity of politicized Evangelical Fundamentalists.... the "Televangelist" movement.

It sacrificed Wisdom for the quick and easy platitudes of modern day Pharisees; the religious political rightists associated with the Republican Party and movement conservatism. This it did for the expedience of popularity. Politically "conservative" converts were looking for "absolutes" in a God-given existence of ambiguity. The Church commercialized and joined the Evangelicals; cheapened the message.

However, the greatest sacrifice on the altar of institutional preservation was the blatant sacrifice of their own moral authority as they systematically sought to cover-up widespread child abuse and pedophilia within its Priesthood.

A good Editorial in the New York Times captures the attitude of the Catholic Leadership on the issue of pedophilia in its Priesthood, and suggests why the Catholic Church should return to its own Social Teachings, and redeem itself, allowing the return of Wisdom to its pronouncements on Public Policy.

The Roman Catholic Church currently has lost moral authority on matters of Public Policy.

Editorial
A Bishop’s Words
Published: New York Times, December 6, 2009

In the end it was not the power of repentance or compassion that compelled the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to release more than 12,000 pages of documents relating to lawsuits alleging decades of sexual abuse of children by its priests.

It was a court order. The diocese had spent seven years fighting a lawsuit brought by The New York Times and three other newspapers to unseal the records in 23 lawsuits involving accusations against seven priests. The diocese, which settled those cases in 2002, was ready to battle all the way to the United States Supreme Court to keep the archive secret. It lost in October, when the justices declined to hear its appeal.

Much about those cases was known, and the documents do not greatly revise our knowledge about the scandal that engulfed the entire church after erupting in Boston in 2002. The accounts of priests preying on children, being moved among parishes and shielded by their bishops while their accusers were ignored or bullied into silence, are a familiar, awful story.

But still it is hard not to feel a chill reading the testimony from two depositions given in 1997 and 1999 by Edward Egan, who was then bishop of Bridgeport and later named a cardinal and archbishop of New York. As he skirmishes with lawyers, he betrays a distressing tendency to disbelieve accusers and to shuck off blame.

He responds to accounts of abuse not with shame but skepticism, and exhibits the keen instinct for fraternal self-protection that reliably put shepherds ahead of the traumatized flock.

Referring to the Rev. Raymond Pcolka, whom 12 former parishioners accused of abuses involving oral and anal sex and beatings, Bishop Egan said: “I am not aware of those things. I am aware of the claims of those things, the allegations of those things. I am aware that there are a number of people who know one another, some are related to one another, have the same lawyers and so forth.”

Absent in those pages is a sense of understanding of the true scope of the tragedy. Compare Bishop Egan’s words with those of the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who, after the release of a recent report detailing years of abuse and cover-ups in Ireland, said:

“The sexual abuse of a child is and always was a crime in civil law; it is and always was a crime in canon law; it is and always was grievously sinful. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the report is that while church leaders — bishops and religious superiors — failed, almost every parent who came to the diocese to report abuse clearly understood the awfulness of what was involved.”

Bishop Egan, with institutional pride, looks at the relatively low rate of proven abuse cases as a sort of perverse accomplishment.

“It’s marvelous,” he said, “when you think of the hundreds and hundreds of priests and how very few have even been accused, and how very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything.”