The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #134382 Message #3058291
Posted By: Joe Offer
21-Dec-10 - 02:02 AM
Thread Name: BS: And yet more abusing priests (Ireland)
Subject: RE: BS: And yet more abusing priests (Ireland)
Kat, it's quite obvious that you did not understand what I said about my reason for using the word "Father." At the time he committed his crimes, that was his title. I'd rather disown the man, but I have to humbly admit that at the time he committed his crimes, he was a priest in my church. My use of that term was my admission of that sad fact.
You can read other things into what I said, but I carefully chose my words as an admission that my church bears responsibility for the crimes committed by this man.
Ed T, your comment is not worthy of a response, but let me give you details of a number of programs founded by Catholics in my town, Sacramento (about 2 million people in the area):
- Loaves and Fishes Dining Room, a network of services for homeless people, directed by Mercy Sister Libby Fernandez, a friend of mine
- Francis House, founded by St. Francis Parish in Sacramento, a counseling and resource center for poor individuals and families
- Wellspring Women's Center (where I've worked for 11 years), directed by Loretto Sister Judy Illig. We serve breakfast to over 200 women and children every day, provide counseling and childcare and other services
- Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, formerly Immaculate Conception Community Services because it was founded by Immaculate Conception Parish - provides a five-day food supply to over 18,000 individuals per month through a network of distribution centers all over the Sacramento area.
If you look at the Websites of these organizations, you will see that they provide all sorts of services and have developed innovative solutions to a number of needs. While all started out as Catholic organizations, they are all non-sectarian and have volunteers and clients from all creeds and colors. There are many other Catholic-based organizations that serve the poor of the Sacramento diocese, but these four are the best-known.
Bishop-Accountability.org, an organization that is very critical of the conduct of Catholic priests and bishops in the child molestation scandal, reports that 16 priests in the Sacramento Diocese were accused of molesting children. 33 victims filed claims against the diocese in the past decade for offenses dating back to the 1960s, and they were paid a total of $35 million. Were there other victims who did not file claims? Most probably, but these numbers give somewhat of an indication of the extent of the problem. Compared to the number of poor people served every day by the four organizations, the percentage of child molestation victims is very small.
I do not mean to diminish the seriousness of the crimes that were committed and of the coverups that took place in a number of dioceses. However, as with most crime in the western world, a relatively small percentage of people were victimized, and an even smaller percentage of people committed the crimes. We must take crime seriously and we must do what we can to reduce the crime rate. While it is indeed a significant problem, some people become obsessed with crime, and see it as the primary aspect of human existence; and these people live in fear all the time.
While they are a real and significant and shameful aspect of the existence of the Catholic Church, the child molestation crimes are only one facet of a vast and multifaceted organization. Those who committed or covered up these crimes must be punished, and structures must be set up to prevent and deal with such crimes in the future. But must all Catholic education and health services and services to the poor be subordinated to the crimes committed by a relatively small number of priests? I don't think they should be.
The crimes committed by the priests and bishops are seriously wrong, and they make me very angry. If it were not for the unfair and disproportionate attacks on my church here at Mudcat, I would be in my usual role as an outspoken critic of leadership in my Catholic church, because I believe that many leaders did serious wrong and deserve to be punished severely. In Catholic gatherings and in Catholic publications, I have spoken and written against the requirement for celibacy for priests, against the prohibition of second marriages after divorce, against the prohibition of birth control, against the refusal to ordain women as Catholic priests, and against the obnoxiousness of the "right to life" movement. And I have spoken and written against the conduct of Catholic priests and bishops in the child molestation scandal. I lost my job as a religion teacher in the Catholic Church because I was thought to be too outspoken, and I had to face a hearing because I was accused of teaching things that were doctrinally unsound (I was exonerated, but lost my job a few months later).
But the anti-Catholic criticism at Mudcat is disproportionate and unfair in almost every thread that makes mention of the Catholic Church, and I stand here in protest against it.