Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Happens When a Bishop Actually Stands Up for His Church?

Archbishop Chaput

Recently, Father Tim Moyle (not Mr. Tim Moyle)  linked to an article at, the daily Hampshire Gazette web site about Archbishop Charles Chaput (not Mr. Chaput).  The article carried this title to which I have linked the actual article: "New Philadelphia archbishop says church singled out unfairly on sex abuse".

A number of years ago, some states enacted legislation to open the window of civil statutory limitation for sexually based incidents to allow for lawsuits against plaintiffs for sexual abuse that happened beyond the normal statutory limitations for such lawsuits.  Not surprisingly, in the states that opened up the window, there were many claims made, 850 in California alone, and again not surprisingly most of them were made against the various dioceses of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, the recently appointed, yet to be installed, Archbishop for the Diocese of Philadelphia, while the Archbishop of Denver stood up against the opening of such a window in Colorado, and he and those who supported him were successful.  There is more in the article worth noting.

While in Philadelphia for a news conference about his appointment, he said the following: "The Catholic Church wants to be treated like citizens with equal access to protection of the law. That's all we were asking for in Colorado."

Over the last 60 years of my life, I have generally travelled in Catholic circles, though not exclusively, and though I have met male and female victims of sexual abuse often, I have yet to meet one who was the victim of a Catholic priest.  I know there are many who were victimized by Catholic clergy, but proportionally it is in fact small.  Yet, almost all the financial pressure for redress has been directed at the Catholic Church.

In a 2001 report on Family Violence in Canada, The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that family members, including relatives, constituted the vast majority (93%) of alleged perpetrators, including sexual abuse.  Parents were responsible for 46% of sexual assaults against youth, and siblings accounted for 26%.  An additional 28% were perpetrated by members of the extended family. 

Yet, I have never known of any person I know who was abused to have tried to sue their parents for the pain inflicted on them by sexual abuse, and for some that I know it was particularly horrific.  I have heard of hardly any instances where a scout troop leader, a guide leader, a teacher, or anyone but the Catholic Church being targets for financial compensation.

Yet, it was hardly surprising to see a flash of anti-Catholic bigotry in response to Father Tim's posting of the link.  Anonymous engaged the conversation, and I hate it when Anonymous (in one form or another) turns up because there is an agenda and it is a secret, and so if you engage, you do so with one hand tied behind your back.  Be that as it may, I did and here is the commentary that followed.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chaput is quoted as saying: "I have an obligation - a duty I can't avoid - both to help the victims and to defend innocent Catholics today from being victimized because of earlier sins in which they played no part,"
What a very clever way of reframing the issue. Unfortunately, what Mr. Chaput implies is false. The intent of criminal charges and lawsuits is not to "victimize Catholics today" but to obtain compensatory awards for the victims, and to penalize an institution that is guilty of wrongdoing in both the past and in the present.
Let's never forget that the RCC did not just have bad apples in its barrel, but it also had leaders who enabled the rape and sexual abuse of children. These crimes did not just occur in the distant past - they are also recent. These rapes did not occur just in the US or in Canada, but all around the world.
The men responsible for enabling these child rapists (e.g. Bernard Law) are not former members of the hierarchy, but are current "priests in good standing" who are being sheltered today by the Vatican from criminal prosecution.
How dare Mr. Chaput twist the truth to set up this false framing of the issue? You should be ashamed of what Mr. Chaput did in your good name. You should be calling this man to account for mispresenting the truth. 

MBrandon said...


You should be ashamed of yourself for reframing the truth of sexual abuse that has run rampant in our society and continues in much of our society, making it just an issue about the Catholic Church. The catholic Church is the safest place in the world today for young people, far safer than schools, scout troops, girl guide troops, and other institutions.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon - How do you respond to the fact that the Vatican continues to shelter Bernard Law from further investigation? Do you think this demonstates that your church has really learned anything from its sins?
Are children really safer in the Catholic Church when the church evades financial and legal responsibility for its recent and past abuses?
Even if I accept your assertion that the RCC is the safest institution in the world right now for our children, how is this relevant to the church's culpability and responsibility for recent and past abuses?
People who unquestioningly support Mr. Chaput's shameless distortions are part of the problem and share in his culpability. 

MBrandon said...

I see that carrying on this discussion would be like trying to put a dress on a pig. It only wastes time and irritates the pig.
Clearly you have an agenda. Enjoy your life.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon - thought you had no response of your church's indefensible behavior. Your "flounce" confirms it. As for agendas...we all have them honey. Instead of bemoaning this fact, you should have addressed my points and questions directly. But then again, how does one defend Bernard Law, the great enabled of child rPe, and the popes who protect him? You are in my prayers. God bless.

MBrandon said...

Being in your prayers offers no solace. If your prayers are as misguided as your information about the Catholic Church I am better off without them. Bernard Law sadly did what every other organization did about sexual abuse, not so much covered it up as pretended that it was just a minor issue, and so sent offenders for repair,and returned them to ministry when the professionals said that they were repaired.
As news of the rampant sexualization of the young in Hollywood starts to surface, if the main stream media will allow it, will you condemn them, or give them a pass as you do other organizations?
News flash. The Catholic Church mishandled sexual abuse, just like the rest of society. It should never have happened. It does not change the truth of Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. It proves once again that we are powerless to do good consistently without His guidance.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon – my prayers ought to be as efficacious as anyone else’s – that is unless you think prayers in general are a waste of time.
As for Mr. Bernard Law – you are partially correct. He acted like many other members of the hierarchy by placing the PR image of his church ahead of the well being of the children who were raped by his priests. If only his tender tolerance for child rapists was as keen as that for the innocent children. I will remind you, and other apologists for this heinous scandal, that it was well known then (as it is now), that the recidivism rate for pedophiles is very high, and that there is no effective psychological treatment for a child rapist. Had Mr. Law reported these child rapists to the authorities, he could have prevented the rape and sexual abuse of literally hundreds of children (according to the Attorney General of the Sate of Massachusetts dated July 23, 2003). If the Vatican is so convinced of the innocence of Mr. Law – then send him back to the US to face his accusers. 
It is no moral or legal defense to claim that other organizations behaved as badly as the Roman Catholic Church. It is laughable for you to suggest this, while providing no evidence that any other organization actually did behave as badly or worse.
I have made no claim that this scandal in any way invalidates Christianity or Catholicism. You have placed those words in my mouth. I do, however, wonder how any Catholic can claim divine guidance of the church and her ministers when both have behaved so badly time after time. It takes a special kind of faith to be utterly blind to reality.
Whether or not you welcome my prayers, I pray that truth, clarity, and charity will visit your heart and mind. God bless.

MBrandon said...

Dear Anonymous:
Attempting to communicate with people who Hyde behind anonymity is very disadvantageous.
The efficacy of your prayers is not up to me. However, I suggest that you might more properly pray that truth, clarity and charity visit your own mind as well.
Unless you have been blinded by anti-Catholic bigotry, or have been educated by the Main Stream Media and their particular bias only, it would be nearly impossible for you to not be aware that the statistics of sexual abuse, which is by the way not the rape of young children particularly has been statistically more prevalent through this ugly last 4 or 5 decades many places in our society, which in no way excuses that it occurred in the RCC.
In fact, there are a number of Catholic priests, like Father Gordon MacRae Of the These Stone Walls blog who have been falsely accused of things they could not have logically, geographically done. Still, contingency lawyers have wrung many dollars out of their bishops with no proof whatsoever, merely a threat.
The Church has always had sinners in it, who like Peter, have betrayed the Lord. Count me in that number. I deserve to be there. The Church was founded by Christ for such as us. The failure of it's members, even those popes who have been miserable failures does not take away from the truth of the Church.

Michael Brandon
To imply that sexual abuse did not occur in the Catholic Church is head in the sand thinking.  To imply that it was a significant proportion of all sexual abuse going on is absurd.

I find it equally absurd to think that Anonymous or I have a clue as to why Cardinal Law is in Rome.  Certainly there is no practical evidence online that he was implicated criminally, personally in what happened on his watch in Boston.

I have known 4 bishops in my adult lifetime, and hold each of these men in high regard.  I happened to do a lot of work for one particular diocese in the day, and knew of some of the struggles that that particular bishop was dealing with.  He was and is, even in retirement, a good man, desirous of doing the best he could for those under his care. 

I met a particular priest, who was working in the tribunal office that dealt with annulments, and who had been sent to this particular diocese from his home diocese after allegations were made about hissexual misconduct with young people.  This particular bishop put him away from any contact with young people while his court cases worked themselves out.  He was convicted of several sexual assaults.  He was never allowed back into public ministry, as is appropriate.  Last year, he committed suicide.

This bishop and his confreres tried to deal with the unthinkable to the best of the knowledge they and the professionals they consulted with had at the time.  They took a long time to get it partly right.  Could I have done better, or Anonymous?  I have no idea.

Does the failures of those in the Church hierarchy diminish the truth of the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of Our Catholic Faith?  Not one iota.


Anonymous said...

Between 5 and 10 % of the Catholic Clergy were involved in sexual rape of minors. Because of the small number of priests in the World, they this small percentage of a small number represents a small percentage of the actual number of people who rape chirldren.

What is indefensible,however, is the large majority of bishops who covered up these crimes, and perhaps still do. If any other organization systematically acted as the Catholic Church hieracrchy did (do?), they would not (and should not) exists any more.


Michael Brandon said...


The actual numbers are found in references from my newest posting.

It is indefensible to you that bishops cover up these crimes. Read the John Jay report to see what bishops have done and see if you still want to hold on to your opinion.

Since the unions in the state of Colorado, who ended up pulling the plug on the legislation that Archbishop Chaput fought against and continue to exist, and since the Boy Scouts, schools and other organisations continue to exist, your conculsion is fallacious.

Initially bishops did cover up the crimes, in one way or another, like every group presented with the incomprehensible. They, like you and me, used the best information they had available at the time.