This is the second in a series of posts on the tactics in play from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and its apologists (the Catholic League of Extraordinary Idiots comes to mind).
There is Nothing We Can Do About It
The church is using these tactics to wash their hands of responsibility for the actions of their priests, nuns and lay people who have used their positions and stations to commit physical and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults.
This is the plausible deniability strategy practiced by the church in their attempt to shut down victims or organizations within the church who are looking to hold the hierarchy to account for the crimes committed, literally, in the name of God.
1. We’re sorry, but the statutes of limitations have passed. Lawyers are quick to point this one out on behalf of the diocese. “We would love to talk to you, ease your pain, express our deep condolences and regrets, but I see that the SOL’s for both criminal and civil actions have expired. Here, have a mass card and a copy of our Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese. Please leave through the side door and consider a donation to our annual fund drive to support our retiring vocations!” Bottom line here is that once the statutes of limitations have run out, they have no vested interest in working with victims or their families. There is no acknowledgment past the “credible report.” There is no investigation, there is no review under Canon Law. There is no consequence. It is like it never happened.
2. The alleged crimes took place before our policy was in place. Bummer Dude! I hear what you are saying about Father (insert name here). But what happened to you happened before our policy came into effect. We can’t retroactively give a damn about your particular instance. If we did that, we would have to pretend to care about all the other victims of all the other priests we have
hidden retired. That Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese information we gave you as we hustled you out a side door in number 1 (see above), sorry buddy, you predate that. So, too bad. Please do not disturb the senior citizens coming into the cathedral, church, or chapel who have bequests for the church written into their wills. We would prefer that they remain oblivious to what is going on. The bishop does need a new Chrysler, the current car is almost 3 years old (gasp).
3. He’s dead, he can’t defend himself against these charges. Inevitably, a victim of abuse who has remained silent for decades will come forward. Often, even if the claim is credible, parishioners and the hierarchy of the church will attack the victim for “trying to soil the good name of Father (fill in the blank). “Why don’t you let him rest in peace!” “You are only going after someone who cannot defend himself.”
In my case, my perp (what do I call him?) died in May. In June I received the first volley of the “let him rest in peace, you are trashing the reputation of a deceased man of god” email. It starts! Suspend the fact that he was a prolific abuser/molester/rapist. Forget the fact the Diocese of Scranton had him locked away for a dozen years. Forget that he was sent to “rehabilitation,” and he started grooming his next victim as soon as the backs of his handler were turned.
The variation on #3 is the “he is an addled old man suffering from (insert malady of age here)” who cannot remember what he did.” The diocese, in my case, wanted to garner sympathy for him with me because he was suffering from dementia. Sorry, sympathy is not a commodity I offer wholesale.
The culture of this institution is such that no change is possible as long as the hierarchy is not held accountable. Either from within the church or from civil authority. This morning, word from a courtroom in Philadelphia was that Monsignor Lynn was sentenced to 3-6 years for his crime of failing to protect a child from sexual crimes committed by a priest known to the diocese as an abuser (not the word I really want to use). This is a start. Justice came at a heavy price to the victims and a heavy price to the parishioners whose donations (even if they didn’t know they were footing the legal bill) funded the $11 million + defense costs.
I have been asked if I thought the sentence was reasonable and I think it was. I have to believe in the justice system, the alternative is just not acceptable. That said, Monsignor Lynn should pay for his complicity, but he is taking a bullet for those who wear purple or red. I would like to see the bishops and archbishops who have been playing a shell game with pedophiles for decades to have a day in court and, if a jury convicts, sentenced accordingly. I recommend that Bishop Timlin, late of the Diocese of Scranton be moved to the front of the list. This country needs to send a message that Roman Collar Crime will not be tolerated in any form.