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bullet"The church is one of the few voices that promote reflection and moral values. It is being silenced by scandals. Easter is a good time to begin to once more find a credible voice." Breda O'Brien 11

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletStatements by priests, bishops and cardinals, on or about Palm Sunday, 2002-MAR-24.
bulletStatements by lay leaders

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Statements by priests, bishops and cardinals, 2002-MAR:

bulletFather Raymond Mann, St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA.: "Nothing much can shock us in today's world, but in the past weeks we've seen things, heard things, and read things that we never would have dreamed of.1
bulletThe Rev. Fergus Healey, St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA.: "There's always trouble in the world, there's always evil. But we should face our current situation with a sense of hope, because evil's not supposed to have the last say.''  1
bulletArchbishop Charles Caput, Denver CO." "For American Catholics, this Lent has surely been an emptying and humbling experience. The cross this Holy Week will have a deeper meaning for all of us.''  The quotation forms part of a letter which was read in the archdiocese's nearly 150 parishes on Palm Sunday.
bulletCardinal Edward Egan at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City: "It is a time of great suffering for the church. The cry that comes from all of our hearts is that we never want to even think that such a horror may be visited upon any of our young people, their parents or their loved ones...''  According to recently released documents, while he was bishop at Bridgeport, CT, he allowed abusive priests to continue working within the church for years, and did not notify authorities of the abuse.
bulletArchbishop Daniel Cronin at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hartford, CT.: "Let it be said frankly that this action is immoral and reprehensible and can never be excused. These priests have hurt those they abused and caused scandal to the faithful of the church.''  He was referring to a small number of priests who had caused "immense harm and scandal."
bulletRev. Joseph Mayo, Salt Lake City, UT.: "[Jesus] stood against abuse of all kinds, especially the abuse of children who suffered as we live through this terrible crisis in our church.''

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Statements by lay leaders:

bulletWilliam Donohue is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a non-profit group that fights anti-Catholic bigotry. He said: "We spend our time monitoring and fighting anti-Catholicism wherever it exists in American society, but I have always had a disdain of intellectual dishonesty, and if I sat on the sidelines I'd have to be accused of that myself. I don't know of a single Catholic priest or layman who isn't furious about the sex abuse scandal, in terms of the tolerance they [the hierarchy] have had for intolerable behavior and the way they've played musical chairs with these miscreant priests. I've never seen such anger."
bulletPatrick J. Buchanan is a well-known columnist and former presidential candidate. He wrote: ''Even the most loyal of Catholics and their faithful priests must concede there is something rotten in our Church. The Church has been disgraced, and an outraged faithful made to pay hundreds of millions in damages because of bishops who were derelict in their duty to weed child predators out of seminaries and sanctuaries, and turn them over to the police as the serial criminals they were." He suggested that "Catholic bishops who failed in their managerial and moral duty to protect innocent children should be sent to monasteries to do penance the rest of their lives."
bulletWilliam J. Bennett was the secretary of education under Regan. He suggested in an article in the Wall Street Journal that: "priests, including Cardinal Law [of Boston, MA], who have been involved in these cover-ups must be removed from positions of authority."
bulletJohn Blewett, managing editor of the conservative Catholic magazine Latin Mass, responded to an interviewer: "The responsibility rests with the hierarchy. They stand in the spotlight, and rightfully so. Any church founded by Christ himself, claiming to know the truth and preach the truth, can't be covering up administrative failings." 2

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Other developments:

bullet2002-MAR: Ireland: "In March, the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] broadcast a documentary that reported in detail on the case of the late Father Sean Fortune, a priest in Wexford, Ireland, who faced numerous charges of sexual assault involving young boys. Fortunes superior, Brendan Comiskey, the bishop of Ferns, resigned on April 1 amid anger over his dioceses handling of the case. Fortune committed suicide in 1999 after his release on bail." 11

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  1. Jennifer Peter, "Abuse scandal shrouds beginning of Holy Week: Catholics asked to take solace from Easter message of victory over evil," Associated Press, 2002-MAR-24. Published in Toronto Star, 2002-MAR-25, Page A2.
  2. Michael Paulson, "Abuse scandal angers conservative Catholics," The Boston Globe, 2002-MAR-27, at: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/086/
  3. "Excerpts from proposed policy on abuse," Associated Press, at: http://www.startribune.com/stories/614/
  4. Warren Wolfe, "Catholic bishops may amend zero tolerance policy on abuse," Star Tribune, 2002-JUN-5, at: http://www.startribune.com/stories/614/
  5. "Our Philosophy," Roman Catholic Faithful, at: http://www.rcf.org/about/philosophy.htm
  6. "From the desk of the president: Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc.," at: http://www.rcf.org/
  7. Joyce Howard Price, "Critics decry panel silence on gay priests," The Washington Times, 2002-JUN-6, at: http://www.washtimes.com/national/
  8. "Working together, bishops and laity make protection of children paramount," The Morning Call, at: http://mcall.com/news/opinion/all
  9. Text of "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," at: http://www.petersnet.net/research/
  10. "Catholics: Abuse policy falls short," Washington Post, at: http://detnews.com/2002/religion/
  11. Breda O'Brien, "Bleeding the Church," The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 2002-MAR-30, at: http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/547.cfm

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Copyright 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-MAR-25
Latest update: 2002-JUL-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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