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by Peterr

Bishops Will Be Bishops

3:11 pm in child abuse, Religion by Peterr

Bishop Finn "Boys will be boys."

[UPDATED -- See below]

Cardinal Bernard Law presided over the archdiocese of Boston, and protected abusive priests like John Geoghan and Paul Shanley from secular authorities. When the story came out in court in 2002, the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer prize for their coverage, collected here in a special webpage. As the archdiocese melted down, Pope John Paul II accepted Law’s resignation and transferred Law to Rome, giving him a prestigious post at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and retained him as a member of various important positions on Vatican boards and commissions.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua presided over the archdiocese of Philadelphia, and put his own power and reputation ahead of the protection of children. After two major grand jury investigations, Beviliacqua’s Secretary for Clergy, Monsignor William Lynn was indicted for covering things up. As I wrote a year ago,

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua escaped being hauled before a grand jury only because his doctor says he is near death and has bad memory issues. In their report, the grand jury basically said “we took mercy on him and didn’t name him in the indictment, but boy did he screw up here.” Either he knew what his assistant was doing and is culpable for the later abuse, or he didn’t know and should have. The grand jury report [pdf] is devastating, and the trial will be as well.

It was. Last June, I wrote this about the trial when the verdict of “guilty” came down:

Lynn’s lawyers tried to cast him as a mere functionary, who had no authority to challenge what the archbishop wanted done — and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Archbishop Bevilacqua wanted things hushed up and buried. . . .

At the trial, Bevilacqua’s actions were scrutinized. Father Thomas P. Doyle, the canon lawyer who tried to warn the USCCB about the dangers of covering up for child abusers back in the 1980s. In thanks for his work, the hierarchy of the church derailed his career and sidelined him from offering them any additional advice. The prosecution, however, put his advice front and center in the trial:

A priest who is an expert on canon law testified Thursday that in his opinion, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua was guilty of obstructing justice when he ordered the shredding of a confidential memo in 1994 that listed 35 archdiocese priests accused of sex abuse.

Father Thomas P. Doyle, an outspoken advocate for victims of clerical sex abuse, was asked on cross-examination what advice he would have given Bevilacqua.

“He’s got a list of 35 men who are sexually abusing children, and he’s going to shred it?” Doyle asked incredulously. “No way,” Father Doyle told the jury. “That’s like obstruction of justice.”

That sole “guilty” spoken in Philadelphia is the one that ought to send shivers up the spines of every bishop and cardinal of the Catholic church. In Philadelphia, the story is not over, as there are other trials waiting to be held on this. Similarly, if I were retired Cardinal Rigali [Bevilacqua's successor], I’d be consulting with my attorneys rather closely. From the grand jury’s report, there certainly appear to be things that Rigali either knew or should have known about but upon which he did not act. Do they rise to the level of a criminal coverup? I don’t know, but there’s certainly enough there for a prosecutor to want to dig in a bit deeper.

Here in Kansas City, it certainly worries Bishop Robert Finn, whose trial for failure to report suspicions of child abuse by one of his priests is slated to begin later this summer.

Which brings us to Bishop Finn and Kansas City, where lawyers for the victims of former priest Shawn Ratigan have filed a civil suit against Finn and the diocese for failing to promptly report the child pornography found on Ratigan’s computer by the diocese’s director of management and information services, Julie Creech. Creech’s deposition was part of the court filings, which included this bombshell [KC Star story updated; see below]:

The civil motion filed Thursday quotes Creech as having been concerned when she heard that some at the diocese were saying that she had not found “lewd” photographs on the computer. In a partial deposition transcript included with the civil filings, Creech said she approached Finn about the diocese’s response to the Ratigan discoveries.

Finn, she noted, was not specific as to what actions the diocese would take.

“He did indicate that, you know, sometimes priests do things that they shouldn’t, and he said, you know, he said, ‘Sometimes boys will be boys,’ ” Creech said in the deposition.

And you know, sometimes bishops will be bishops, even when women like Julie Creech and Sister Joan Scary try to warn them.

I suppose it’s like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women who told the male disciples of Jesus about the resurrection. According to Luke, “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

One of these days, the leaders of the church might learn that they ought to listen to the women.

UPDATE –

From the KC Star this morning [same link as above, but now changed], Creech appears to be walking her testimony back:

John Gromowsky, an attorney representing Julie Creech, the computer systems manager for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said that she had “misspoken” in deposition testimony taken in a civil case and hoped to correct it.

In the Aug. 17 deposition, Creech said that Finn had said, “Sometimes boys will be boys,” when she raised concerns about how the diocese was handling the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, on whose laptop computer she had seen lewd photos of young girls.

“The statement Julie Creech attributed to Bishop Finn during her deposition that ‘boys will be boys’ is not consistent with her recollection of any conversations she had with the bishop concerning the Shawn Ratigan matter,” a statement released by Gromowsky said. “Following the deposition, Julie realized she had misspoken.”

The statement gave no explanation for why Creech’s testimony differed from her recollections.

by Peterr

Will Komen Cut Off Grants to Catholic Hospitals, Too?

11:49 am in Religion by Peterr

(photo: krazydad/jbum/flickr)

Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has a nice piece up, describing the new policy of the Komen for the Cure people that prohibits grants being made to Planned Parenthood, as well as the reactions internally at Komen among their professional staff. (Short version: not good.)  As for the policy, in a memo to Komen employees, Komen President Elizabeth Thompson said:

. . . should Komen become aware that an applicant or its affiliates are under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities, the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.

That caught my attention fast, because of some other investigations I’ve been reading about lately.

The Roman Catholic Church is under investigation for financial irregularities in a number of places across the country. A biggie is in Milwaukee, where the current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, apparently tried to cook the books while serving earlier as the head of the Milwaukee diocese, to hide diocesean assets from the judge in a child abuse case. Said Jack Rule, an accounting professor who looked the court filings and testimony over in an interview with Jason Berry of National Catholic Reporter, ““In other words, they zeroed out one account and transferred most of the funds to a new account,” Ruhl explained. “From an accounting standpoint, all Dolan did was rename the assets. It was a shell game.” That case, as the story points out, is still before a bankruptcy judge, with an ongoing investigation not only into the child abuse claims but also the money available to settle them.

Sounds like an ongoing formal investigation to me.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the CFO of that archdiocese was caught with her hand in the till, to the tune of $1M. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the church was continuing to work with the district attorney’s office and declined further comment. She said the church last year hired attorney Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. and the accounting firm of Parente Randolph to conduct an internal audit.

Hmmm . . . another ongoing formal investigation.

So do investigations like these of the Catholic church and its financial dealings mean that Georgetown University and other Catholic institutions will be prohibited from receiving Komen grants? In 2009-10, per Komen’s 990 [pdf], GU got grants of $599,985 and $250,000 for research (pdf pp. 43 and 47) and $73,750 for treatment programs (pdf p. 54). (FY: 4/1/2009-3/31/2010). Note that the above is the 990 for the main Komen for the Cure organization, which is separate from the local affiliates who have to file their own 990s. Undoubtedly there are other RC organizations who receive Komen funds.

Some would say “but wait — GU is not in Milwaukee or Philadelphia!” I might be willing to agree with that, save for the fact that Komen held every Planned Parenthood affiliate liable for the alleged [edit] actions of the larger outfit.

I don’t raise this to pick on Catholics here. You could go through the list of grant recipients and find other institutions that are no doubt under investigation for one thing or another. There’s absolutely no research university (public, private secular, or private religious) that someone isn’t looking into for this, that, or the other thing. But if Komen isn’t willing to cut off other organizations known to be “under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties,” it makes their words about Planned Parenthood look mighty hollow.

Unless GU and other Catholic institutions are losing their funds too, this “it’s just our policy” line is Komen blowing smoke, and that makes me sick.