Saturday, July 28, 2012

The House That Kane Built

It isn't big news anymore when a Catholic Diocese sells old and unused property. The church has been consolidating and selling property for decades now. Parishioners complain to deaf ears and eventually move on. But a story on WBZ TV, Boston today caught my attention.

Apparently Alain Beret wanted to buy The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center in Whitinsville Massachusetts from the Worcester Diocese and transform it into a venue for weddings and functions. A great idea as the center has been closed for years. And a sale for one million dollars to boot. A win win all around.

Except Mr. Beret and his partner are gay. Uh oh. And they might perform gay weddings there. Uh oh. Bishop McManus can't allow that to happen on this church property. This property is sacred! I'm sure there was some sort of blessing that occurred at one point with holy water, incense and Latin chants. This place is holy!

After all the Bishop is so much against the notion of gay marriage that he persuaded the small Catholic institute of higher learning, Anna Maria College, to disinvite Vickie Kennedy as the commencement speaker. Because as a Kennedy she must be for gay marriage, right?  Maybe. I hope so. But she has never publicly said one way or the other. 

When your a Bishop you don't need hard evidence. It's been that way since the inquisition. They're closer to God and all that.

And that closeness to God guided the Bishop in his decision to not sell to Mr. Beret. In a message to the real estate agent, Monsignor Sullivan explained the Bishop's position: "Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there….we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.”

Apparently God was at a loss of words when the Bishop asked for guidance on this one because his move may be illegal and Mr. Beret, a lawyer, is exploring how to proceed. I suspect he won't be at such a loss for words.

It could be that God and the Bishop are also at a loss of words because The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center was once known as the House of Affirmation, a treatment center for priests with psychological problems. And pedophiles. The church had a lot of them and needed to prove to insurance companies they were handling the situation.

It was started by Fr Tom Kane, who claimed to have a Phd in Psychology. He didn't.  In fact the diocese settled a lawsuit, confidentially about Kane's sexual abuse of a none year old boy.  Meaning Kane himself was a pedophile. And he had just created his candy store. Because Kane, with his phony Phd and his cronies sent there for treatment by the likes of Cardinal Law, kind of made the House of Affirmation their own little playground. Kind of a Club Ped. 

So much for sacred ground. A lot of the serial sexual abuse of children in the Southern Worcester County can be traced right to the House that Kane built. Kane, like the brother who killed Able. The only problem was that this Kane and his buddies were very willing and able. Because of protection by the church.

And knowing this, somehow the Worcester Diocese is still more offended by the notion of a gay marriage happening on this property, than by it's vast history of abuse. Because if he was more offended by the abuse he might have sought to bring justice to those who were abused there by opening the files and shedding light on this sad chapter. Instead they changed the name to Oakhurst and destroyed the files. Hoping we would all forget. 

Not yet.

According to the Bishop, the last thing that should happen on the House of Affirmation property should be something as unholy as gay marriage. Why should a property that terrorized so many children become a place where couples should be allowed to publicly declare their love, devotion and commitment to each other? Beacuse that would be... What? Good? To me it sounds like a wonderful way to heal that space. A way to genuinely bless it.

I fear asking the Bishop "Why not sell Oakhurst to Mr. Beret?" would only fall on deaf ears, as he awaits guidance from his God, who still seems to be at a loss of words over all of this. 

No wonder. Who wouldn't be?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pro Death Penalty

Lately I've found myself listening to Sports Talk Radio in Boston. Being a sports fan from New England is almost a natural. Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins are all legendary teams. At least to us. Much like politics here, which most consider a contact sport. Although they should never mix, just as Mayor Menino and try not to laugh as he tries to pronounce Wes Wekler. Res Wreckler?

The real no-no's in pleasant conversation are politics and religion. Which seems to be true as the silence from all of the politicians when the clergy sexual abuse scandal broke in Boston ten years ago still echoes. And I mean all politicians, from both parties. There were no profiles in courage.

Which brings me to Penn State. I spent a good part of the afternoon today listening to WEEI's The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley as they fended off a lot of Penn State apologists. Who sounded awfully similar to the Catholic Church apologists.

Serial child abuser Sandusky is in jail for life now and Joe Paterno is dead. Time to move on. Others who may have facilitated the cover-up are still being investigated like Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.  More justice will be served by the actual guilty parties. Time to move on. And leave statutes and football alone.


Serial child abuser John Goeghan and Cardinal Law has moved to Rome. Time to move on. We are investigating it. Time to move on. And leave all the good priests alone. Stop Catholic bashing.

A little tweaking and the playbook is the same. Penn State apologists are fighting to prevent an NCAA imposed Death Penalty to the football program. Meaning no football for a year or two. Which isn't really death because there is a form of resurrection involved. Maybe play in the Easter Sunday Bowl?

The main argument in saving Penn State football is that innocents should not be punished for the acts of these few. You can insert Catholic Church for Penn State, assign the statement to the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, slap him on Fox News and it's the same story.

Both Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley agreed, some innocents will be hurt by the Death Penalty but believe it sends a strong message to other NCAA sports programs that may find themselves in a similar situation. And instead of covering up for the crime, those in charge will report it so as not to suffer the same consequences.

In essence they will report the sexual abuse of children to save their sports program first. The children second. That is an incredibly sad and probably true statement.

As far as we know Penn State covered up for Sandusky's crimes for fourteen years. "Covering up" is a nice way of saying allowing him to commit more crimes, because that is exactly what happens. That makes them co-conspirators in facilitating his access to victims.

Why did they do this? To protect a football program worth $99 million dollars according to Forbes Magazine.

A football program that grew during those fourteen years of cover ups. Everyone, innocents included benefitting from the active cover up. Profiting because of the cover up. And the apologists don't want to lose that share.

Too bad.

Just like Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia being found guilty of child endangerment because he covered up for sexual abuse by priests under his supervision, he did so to protect his position. He didn't want to lose his share. Because priests and Bishops who speak up lose theirs. So, sorry kids, you're on your own. Unless we prosecute a few more. Then they will report pedophiles to protect their position rather than go to jail.

Just like Ordway's observation, Bishops will report sexual abuse of children only when it will protect their job and position. Not to protect children.

It is up to all of us to protect children and hold those accountable who are abusers and their protectors. With the harshest measures possible. Because the numbers are staggering. One in every four girls and one on every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen.

For the first time in my life I will say I am in favor of the Death Penalty. For Penn State.