Friday, April 18, 2008

Pope Could Heal by Ousting Law

Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI talked and prayed with five victims of clergy sex abuse after telling a crowd at the morning Mass that "No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse.... Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church" (WaPo)

Meanwhile, resigned Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, who shielded child abusing priests, basks in affluent and influential ease under the Vatican's protection.... allowed to retain his Cardinal's hat.

As archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Law runs one of the Eternal City's most opulent patriarchal basilicas, enjoying the favor of the Vatican and worshiping admirers. He also is on eight policy-making committees of the Curia.... the international government of the Church.... including, ironically and outrageously, the Pontifical Council for the Family!

How can a fawning media, servile President Bush and deferential politicians forget that it is the Vatican's asylumed or honored guest Law who was aware of sexual misconduct among his subordinates but engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident after incident.

Let's be specific, Law "admitted in a deposition that he knew that the Rev. John Geoghan had raped at least seven boys in 1984 before he approved Geoghan's transfer to another parish where other boys were at risk.

"Further disclosures revealed that the Rev. Paul Shanley, who at one point was facing trial for 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery, had been moved from ministry to ministry in what amounted to an attempt to protect him. Law himself lied to a West Coast bishop about Shanley's history and certified in writing that another rapist priest, the Rev. Redmond Raux, had 'nothing in his background' to make him 'unsuitable to work with children.' " (Lithwick-Slate)

Bad enough that after Law's resignation in disgrace as archbishop of Boston that he was one of nine honored Cardinals to conduct Pope John Paul II's funeral.... actually leading the memorial Mass.... he also participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict.

As it turns out, Law's move to the Vatican was actually a step up, not a punishment.... he has a palatial frescoed apartment attached to the basilica, a monthly stipend of $5,000 and regularly attends diplomatic and social events. When dining out one of his favorite spots charges $60 and up for their entrees.

Law's influence on the Curia is more profound now that he can attend meetings on a regular basis and through his role in the Congregation of Bishops is one of a handful of men in charge of choosing the hierarchy of the American church.

Law's continued preferential treatment by Popes John Paul and Benedict is the true measure of their sorrow over the disgusting crimes against children. By such preferential treatment it appears the more important part of Benedict's apology spurring his visit rests in.... "the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church."

Stripping Law of his place of privilege, power and ease within the Vatican would be a more believable, and healing, atonement.

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