Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Egan-Giuliani 2012: The Roman (Catholic) Empire Strikes Back

     In the midst of the mess that is the Catholic church in Ireland and in the wake of the release of the Murphy Report that unmasked the systematic sexual abuse of minors by clergy and concurrent/ongoing cover up by bishops and government officials, one would think that the church would learn from its mistakes.  One would think that things at the Vatican and around the world might change.  After all, the church and bishops have apologized for the atrocities in Ireland and the United States and Australia and Canada/New Zealand/etc. etc. etc.  Right?

     But what's an apology if you don't change your ways?  I think the church would probably call this false contrition.

     Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them (Mt 7:20).  And right now, it's raining sour fruits all across the Catholic church in America.

     An editorial in Sunday's New York Times speaks of the hypocrisy in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, where it wasn't compassion, reconciliation, repentance, or the love of Jesus Christ that compelled the diocese "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," that the diocese had fought for seven years! 

     One of the clerics that doesn't come out too well in the 12,000 pages is former bishop of Bridgeport, the retired Cardinal Edward Egan of New YorkThe Times states:
As he [Egan] 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.”
     Late last week, the Catholic church dropped another big piece of rotten fruit in New York, only a week after the release of the Murphy Report and the cascade of  bishops saying that they're sorry and that the church has changed.

     Welcome to Rudy Giuliani's own personal church.

     Catholic sex-abuse victims' groups are decrying a Vatican decision to clear a former high-ranking Long Island priest, and longtime friend of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, of sex-abuse allegations.
     The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced on Friday that the Catholic Church had found Monsignor Alan Placa not guilty of molesting teenage boys, an allegation that first surfaced in a local grand jury investigation in 2002. The grand jury report concluded that Placa could not be prosecuted criminally because the statute of limitations had expired.
     "While not surprising, it's still heart-breaking to see that a victim deemed credible by virtually everyone else -- prosecutors, grand jurors, journalists, survivors, relatives and lay Catholics -- is deemed not credible by a couple of Vatican bureaucrats thousands of miles away," said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
     The victim mentioned is Richard Tollner who was molested repeatedly by Monsignor Placa in 1975 while he was a teen at a Catholic high school. He is one of three known victims of Placa.
     "What upsets me most is that it sends a message that it is okay to be a sex abuser," said Tollner. "The Church will just ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and nobody is going to care."
     Tollner says he was kept in the dark about the testimony presented at the proceedings and unsuccessfully sought information on its outcome for the past two and a half years. He did not learn about the "not guilty" ruling until a reporter called him about it on Friday.
     Tollner told Good Morning America in 2007 that the sexual abuse started when he and Placa were making posters for a Right to Life march.
     "As he started to explain how these posters should be done, I realized that something was rubbing my body," Tollner said. "After a minute or two, I realized that he's feeling me, feeling me in my genital area."
     The grand jury report concluded that Priest F [Placa] abused the boys sexually "again and again and again.  Priest F was cautious, but relentless in his pursuit of victims."
     Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop-Accountablity.org, a group that tracks sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests, called the decision a "slap in the face to survivors and all Catholics who want to believe the Church can change its ways." 
     This is definitely a slap in the face not only to all the victims but to anyone with half a brain, who cares about the well being of children.  One person not in that group is former Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani, who hired his best bud Placa, as soon as Placa was removed from ministry during the investigation.  Giuliani reportedly got on the phone and contacted several former students of he and Placa's childhood school and asked by "the Giuliani organization" to vouch for Placa.  Futhermore:
      Placa has been friends with Giuliani since they both attended Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. They were in an opera club together and would sometimes double date. Giuliani and Placa later attended Manhattan College together, where they were also fraternity brothers.
     Placa was ordained as a Catholic priest in May 1970. He was the best man at Giuliani's first marriage in 1968, then helped Giuliani get an annulment in 1982 so he could marry second wife Donna Hanover. Placa officiated at Hanover and Giuliani's 1984 wedding. He officiated at the funerals of Giuliani's father and mother and baptized both of Giuliani's children.
     With friends in both high and low places, it's no surprise that the Vatican cleared Placa of the charges.  And why?  Statute of limitations!  Once again unholy mother church pretends that something never happened, while with the other side of her mouth apologizes for the horrendous sexual abuse in a far off land.

      Postscript:  For those of you in the heartland, the scandal continues in your own backyard, where my home diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and its Bishop William E. Franklin, are fighting tooth and nail against a judge's ordre to release the diocesan files.  I hope that he and Father O'Baldy are enjoying the Advent season together.