Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Catholic Church tired of being persecuted for molesting children

Since Christianity grew out of Judaism I think it's appropriate to accuse Catholic bishops and their apologists of having a lot of chutzpah.

According to several reports online, the Mother Church feels persecuted. It's tired of apologizing for molesting children. Evidently they feel that their good works ought to outweigh the commission and cover-up of hundreds if not thousands of criminal sexual acts. 

In an effort to improve their image they've decided to put legal pressure on a victim's defense organization. Their obscene wealth should hire a lot of good lawyers.

Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists...

The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”

No doubt the Bishops and other leaders in the Church feel that this is all a matter of religious freedom. That's a phrase they like to toss around a lot. Take this letter from the Catholic Bishops as an example of their fondness for religious freedom.

Twice in recent weeks, I have written you to express my gratitude for our unity in faith and action as we move forward to protect our religious freedom from unprecedented intrusion from a government bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

How fortunate that we as a body have had opportunities during our past plenary assemblies to manifest our strong unity in defense of religious freedom.

Since January 20, when the final, restrictive HHS Rule was first announced, we have become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our struggle to protect it...“Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.” Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop William Lori, with so many others, have admirably kept us focused on this one priority of protecting religious freedom. We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans.

And that's just within the first four paragraphs. The phrase is used ten more times in the letter.

They completely ignore the fact that every freedom in America includes certain responsibilities. For example, freedom of speech doesn't permit you to yell "fire" in a crowd. Neither should religious freedom be (ab)used to excuse the inexcusable. 

Even lay leaders are chiming in, urging the Church to quit apologizing, hire powerful lawyers, and fight for their right to molest. Bill Donohue, the outspoken Catholic League bulldog, posted in an editorial:

We now know from the deposition of SNAP director David Clohessy that he has been (a) lying to the media about his work (b) falsely advertising his group as a rape crisis center (c) working with unseemly lawyers (d) exploiting his clients by providing unauthorized “counseling” services (e) ripping off those who are truly in need of help by failing to contribute even a dime for licensed counselors, and (f) pursuing priests on the basis of legal criteria he admits he cannot explain.

Furthermore, we know from two people who went undercover last summer to a SNAP conference in the D.C. area that the Catholic Church is regarded by these activists as “the evil institution.” Yet when the bishops finally decide to play hardball, they are slammed by the New York Times!
When the Times is sued, does it hire wimpy lawyers? Does it allow itself to be a punching bag? Not on your life: they hire the most aggressive attorneys they can buy. But when the bishops follow suit, they’re accused of not showing “reconciliation” for the victims.TheNew York Times needs to get it straight: when rapacious activists and lawyers, motivated by revenge—not justice—seek to bleed the Catholic Church by using methods that are unethical at best, and illegal at worst, then it is only fair that the bishops take a page out of the New York Timesplaybook and defend themselves. With vigor.

In an interview with Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times, Donohue says that in the past the church “has been too quick to write a check” to individuals who report being victimized by pedophile priests. He believes that the church should fight each case “one by one,” ostensibly to save money “in the long run.”

He said that Catholic bishops should “toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough” in the fight against victims of sex abuse. “We don’t need altar boys.”

Spot on, Bill. Why waste money compensating victims of clergy abuse when that money could be better used to squash such a powerful foe. Obviously SNAP must be a powerful foe to incur the wrath of the Catholic League. (The Catholic League, comedian Kathy Griffin says, is “just that one guy (Donohue) and his computer”.)

According to the New York Times, it has three paid staff members, and its revenue in 2010 was a whopping $352,903. In other words, compared to the mighty Catholic Church, it's a pretty small, not-very-well-funded organization that exists solely to support those who've been victimized by the Church. Which means, according to Donohue, that SNAP is "a menace to the Catholic Church."

Not to be outdone by a mere layperson, Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is opposing legislation that would make the Church even more vulnerable to these whiners that would challenge its right to protect molesting priests from prosecution.

Cardinal Dolan criticized a legislative proposal that would, for a year, drop the statute of limitations for filing civil claims for sexual offenses, allowing for lawsuits by people who say they were abused long ago. The cardinal said he was concerned that a flood of lawsuits over abuse by priests could drain the church of money it is using for charitable purposes.

“I think we bishops have been very contrite in admitting that the church did not handle this well at all in the past,” he said. “But we bristle sometimes in that the church doesn’t get the credit, now being in the vanguard of reform. It does bother us that the church continues to be a whipping boy.”

It galls me, as I would hope it does any person of reason whether they be Catholic, Protestant or non-religious, that the Church would try to excuse its priest's behavior by crying persecution and hold up the concept of religious freedom as if it were a shield to stave off responsibility. It should shame Catholics that their leadership is using its vast wealth to silence those who take an active role in trying to help victims of clerical abuse. 

If this is indeed all protected under the flag of religious freedom then perhaps it's time to reconsider the wisdom of allowing religions more freedom than other for-profit institutions enjoy.