“DARE TO DO RIGHT AND TRUST THE CONSEQUENCES TO INFINITE WISDOM”
James G. Blaine
Those words are carved into a stone bench facing the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. It makes me wonder if the people who work there, allegedly in the service of the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, bother to read what is in front of them every day.
James G. Blaine was a native of Western Pennsylvania, he served as a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Maine, eventually becoming Speaker of the House, then a U.S. Senator. He served twice as Secretary of State. He was the Republican candidate for President in 1884, narrowly losing to Grover Cleveland. I guess the era of great Republican Statesmen of Pennsylvania is more than a century passed.
Just a week ago, The President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate, Joseph B. Scarnati III, refused to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate that would have allowed survivors of childhood sexual assault a window of opportunity to bring a civil action against the perpetrators of those crimes and the institutions that protected those perpetrators. This was done when it seemed that a growing wave of support would tip the scales in favor of establishing a two-year window.
A quick look at Senator Scarnati’s official Senate website is revealing. The first problem I see is that he lists his occupation as “State Senator.” Senator Scarnati is a professional politician. He is beholden, not to his constituency, but to the patrons of his next campaign. He is up for reelection in 2020. Of those patrons, I am willing to bet the insurance industry and the Catholic Lobby are exerting some influence.
His web page also announces that he is a member, along with his wife Amy and their five children, of St. Tobias Catholic Church in Brockway, Pennsylvania. This is all making sense now. He seems to be predisposed to support the institution that protects pedophile priests. Perhaps the Senator is in the cozy pocket of Bishop Persico of the Diocese of Erie and the other prelates within the Commonwealth. Maybe he doesn’t understand the damage done by predators and compounded by the institutions that protect those monsters. Perhaps he did not learn his catechism regarding the need for forgiveness, penance, and restitution. I have said this a hundred times; until the Catholic Church pays a vulgar price for a perverted institutional culture, there is no way to correct that culture and ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. That price may come in the removal of leading church officials who are embroiled in the abuse of children or the protection of those who did the abusing. It may occur in the loss of the faithful and loss of revenue. It may come with a significant financial hit to pay restitution to survivors.
A significant corporate cultural shift is required to right the ship. Senator Scarnati’s actions, or more correctly, inactions lend tacit approval to a clergy culture that promotes deity like status to priests, puts the church above the law, encourages secrecy and puts children at risk. Abuse thrives in a culture of secrecy.
I am curious how the President pro tempore, when presented with overwhelming evidence of individual and institutional wrongdoing, can stand on the side of the institution that allowed children to be sexually abused, molested and raped and covered up the evidence of those crimes. He is aligning himself with pedophiles, rapists, and narcissists more concerned about protecting the treasure of the church from scandal than doing the right thing. The right thing is to protect the children of the Commonwealth. The real treasure of the church is the children. Bishops who are more concerned about maintaining the wealth of the church have no business being the shepherds of their flocks. Senator Scarnati is protecting the wrong people.
The friend of my enemy is my enemy. The defender of a pedophile is the defender of evil. That person has no moral authority to lord over the Senate Chamber in Harrisburg. Let’s call it like it is. Senator Scarnati is a coward for not allowing the bill to go to the floor for a vote.
Senator Scarnati is more concerned with advancing his political career than in supporting the prevention of sex crimes committed against children and vulnerable adults. I am sure that his wife, Amy, and his children as well as all the parishioners at St. Tobias are so very proud of the fact that Joe will stand up for the wrong side. For those parishioners, I would like to ask a question. Which one of your children are you willing to sacrifice to a predator who will be protected by the institution with whom he/she is associated?
What happens when you put politicians, priests, attorneys, and insurance executives together in Harrisburg? NOTHING!
Is anyone out there listening?