Thursday, April 01, 2010

Recently I've been feeling this heavy weight on my back and I couldn't quite figure it out. Until I received an email from Voice of the Faithful saying they were having Vigils of Sorrow on Good Friday to "stand in solidarity with victims of clergy abuse."

Really? They want to stand with us again? Why it seems like only yesterday that we were standing on the streets of Providence, in the rain, as they held their convention without much concern for the victims, on whose backs they built their organization.

Heck, because of all of the news about the Pope, VOTF's President Dan Bartley has even appeared on CNN. That should help raise some money for them.

I know I sound a little cynical. I do understand that this is reflective of the organization on the national scale. I also know that there are many local affiliates of Voice of the Faithful with integrity.

Apparently these vigils will be held at major cathedrals in Boston, New York and Washington D.C. I'm not sure I see this as the right PR move. It is Good Friday and the church will be discussing nothing but forgiveness. That is what the church is all about.

Unless you are the New York Times. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn has gone as far to say, "I might even suggest canceling our subscriptions to The New York Times, but we need to know what the enemy is saying." That's not very forgiving.

Let alone the likes of our friend Bill Donohue at the Catholic League. When he forgives Larry David, Bill Maher and Kathy Griffin, then I will start to believe the church is about forgiveness.

They used to go willingly and humbly to the lions to profess their faith, now they can't even take a joke.

Is forgiveness what we are looking for anyway? How about justice first?

If you want to protest, why not start with the offices of federal prosecutors, attorneys general and local DAs? They are the only agents who can promote real change. Resignations won't solve anything, but prosecution will.

The question "Will the Pope resign?" is irrelevant.

From Boston to Australia to Ireland to Germany and everywhere in between, the handling of clergy sexual abuse worldwide has been the same. We should be looking at why.

The abuse is reported to the Bishop, and he either sends the priest to another Diocese or to a "treatment center" and then reassigns him, without ever notifying the authorities. Are we to believe this is all a coincidence? That they have acted individually and independently from each other? Not likely.

Let's look at how the Dioceses of Worcester and Fort Worth handled Fr. Tom Teczar. He served for a little while at St. Mary's in Uxbridge prior to this. That's where he got to know me.

Here is an article written by Richard Nagle from the Worcester Telegram, April 21, 2003.

In a letter:
Monsignor Raymond J. Page, vicar general of the Worcester diocese, wrote to Bishop Reilly, then in charge of the diocese serving Norwich, Conn., "Father Teczar is a priest of this diocese. Bishop Harrington has granted him a leave of absence with the suggestion that he seek a benevolent bishop.

"Tom's difficulties came to a head two years ago when a 16-year-old boy accused Tom of soliciting him," the letter continued.

Monsignor Page also wrote Bishop Reilly that "Bishop Harrington says there has long been a cloud of suspicion over Tom. Bishop Harrington knows a trail of damaged youngsters he left in one town. The police there were far from pleased. In that town, the police threatened to find a reason to arrest him if he returned there." Bishop Reilly declined to take on Rev. Teczar, and the Worcester diocese began to focus on Fort Worth.

With the knowledge of this risk, Bishop Delaney of Fort Worth still wanted Tom to serve in his Diocese. In a letter to the Worcester Diocese he wrote:

The letter went on, "Bishop Rueger sent me a copy of the letter you received from Mr. James Reardon, the diocesan attorney, with his opinion that Father Teczar should be excardinated from the Diocese of Worcester immediately. While respecting Mr. Reardon's expertise in civil law, I want to raise with you other questions about this matter involving both justice and charity." 

Bishop Delaney said he believed Rev. Teczar would perform well for the Fort Worth diocese. "Let me be clear about the three-year wait," he wrote. "It is not due to concern about Tom's past problem. If I had serious concern in that regard I would not be dealing with the matter at all! ... In Tom's case there is the past problem that you and he have fully shared with me. But that is not the reason for the wait. If I had any fear that the problem would ever arise again I could not and would not accept him at all for any length of time. "

You told me both times we talked that you believe Tom can do effective priestly work and that you do not want to see him laicized. I can offer him that chance ... I am willing to provide the Diocese of Worcester with a document absolving you of any responsibility for Father Teczar's conduct during this time."

That document absolving  Worcester cost Fort Worth $4.15 million in settlements. It ultimately gave Teczar a 50-year prison sentence. Not to mention the children that were abused.

There was full disclosure between these two Bishops. It is time for the full disclosure of the policy of the cover.

It is clear they knew what they were doing. Just like they did Germany and everywhere else. I wish I could say April Fools, but I can't. This is no joke.

The only fools are those who believe the Catholic Church will police themselves.


MaryD said...

I too believe it was not a coincidence that all the cases were handled the same. Also, this week I heard that one priest's case was handled "according to the laws of the church". Does that mean that the clergy are above the laws of the land? Which includes being required to announce yourself as a pedophile whenever you change your residence.
It's Holy Week - repentence and forgiveness. How about the Pope practice what he preaches?

kate said...

Skip, this is an excellent blog post and I'm grateful I found it through the abuse tracker.

I too have not found any steadfastness or solidarity or genuineness in VOTF. One year after they started in the capital region of NY, all they wanted to talk about was priestly celibacy. We abuse victims were old news.

And wouldn't you know... With all the news now about cover ups of abuse, national VOTF asked me for money. What for?

I don't mean to question the motives of everyone in VOTF. I am sure there are some fine people, but those people seem to get ignored within their own organization.

Dunaleigh said...

Thank you for this post, Skip. The quotes from the communications are stark and revealing. It is clear what was happening. Children, and indeed all who are weaker, those who are not in power, are always the ones to suffer so that others may live above reproach. There was a song many years ago, "Bless the Beasts and the Children." We might now write, 'save the beasts and the children,' because they have no voice in the wider world. But some have a voice now, thanks to what you are doing.