Thursday, September 22, 2005

Evil on Earth

Restless Mania directs us to this shocking post by Mr. Sun regarding the investigation of sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A grand jury found that Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua deliberately concealed sex abuse amongst priests in their diocese--and that due to the statute of limitations, they could not indict anybody.

That, as Mr. Sun points out, is the real tragedy, that the cover-up worked exactly as planned. The Archdiocese is claiming vindication despite clearly getting off on a technicality, and nobody will be punished for their part in this display of raw evil. As Cardozo Law Professor Marci Hamilton put it:
Let's put the technicality of the statute of limitations aside, and look at the substance of the report. It is unequivocal. On the merits, but for the statute of limitations, the dozens of priest perpetrators, who were placed in one parish after another, were guilty of rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering welfare of children, and corruption of minors. The tragedy is that victims need such a long period of time to come forward and none had the capacity to come before the grand jury within the statute of limitations. It is still everyone's hope involved in this investigation that those who were more recently abused will be able to stop the cycle of abuse and come forward now.

Mr. Sun wants as many bloggers to link Cardinal Bevilacqua's name to "evil" so that his escape from justice does not bring an escape from notice. Lady Penelope and Uncle Willy have already done so--we need to bump that number up.

What makes this all the more twisted is that what seems to be literally the only response from the Church hierarchy is not to crack down on pedophiles and those who abetted them, but a crackdown on homosexuals as such. The new rules coming out of the Vatican are expected to ban ordination of any homosexual person--celibate or not. They will now be considered, as a class and as persons irrespective of conduct, fundamentally unfit for the priesthood. Andrew Sullivan is justifiably outraged--and I am done making excuses for Pope Benedict XVI. This is simply appalling. I once asked a conservative Catholic friend of mine what gay and lesbians should do--how can they be full and functioning members of the Church community. He responded that they should suppress that part of themselves. Obviously, I don't find that answer satisfactory. But now even that position has been kicked out the door. Now even homosexuals willing to be celibate--willing, in other words, to never commit a homosexual act--are still closed off from full equality in the Catholic Church. They are deemed, in Mr. Sullivan's words, Untermenschen. And of course, it goes without saying that the implication that homosexuals are the root of the pedophilia problem, a claim utterly unsubstantiated in reality and being used to insure the real perpetrators go unpunished, is a morally unconscionable.

What's most distressing about this is that I truly believe these actions do not come close to the true beliefs of most Catholics. I have many Catholic friends, some liberal, some conservative. All of them are good-hearted persons with genuine respect for their fellow human beings, regardless of orientation. A few bad apples shouldn't discredit their whole faith. But what do you do when the bad apples are Cardinals and the Pope himself?

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