The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Catholics for Accountability--and Those Against

I believe that this qualifies as good news:
They call themselves Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators.Although they know they could face repercussions, they have banded together to push the new pope to clean house and the American bishops to enforce the zero-tolerance policies they adopted more than a decade ago.

The group began organizing quietly nine months ago without the knowledge of their superiors or their peers, and plan to make their campaign public this week. Most in the steering group of 12 have blown the whistle on abusers in the past, and three are canon lawyers who once handled abuse cases on the church’s behalf. Four say they were sexually abused as children.
The fact that one of this group is Rev. Thomas Doyle, who has been indefatigable in his zeal for justice for victims over three decades is immensely encouraging. The participation of Anne Barrett Doyle, of the indispensable resource, which curates a wealth of primary documents as well as helpful context-providing summaries and timelines is also very encouraging.

Of course--it never fails, does it?--Bill Donohue is appalled. After all, he writes, the crisis is long over, ending in the 1980s. He's back again to discounting Fr. Michael Fugee, whose confession to a 2001 offense is now reduced to a triviality:
One might think that a group called Catholic Whistleblowers would blow the whistle on bishops who are shielding molesting priests. But they can’t even name one. The best they can do is mention the arrest of Father Michael Fugee in Newark for violating a judicial order. In the 12 years since his case was thrown out of court—for groping a teenager while wrestling in front of family members—there have been no complaints. No matter, this is all about getting Archbishop John Myers, not Fugee.
Actually, Fr. Fugee has been charged with criminal contempt for violating his plea agreement, one which the Archdiocese co-signed, and which the Archbishop's spokesman first denied Fugee had violated, only to change the story days later to claim the Archdiocese did not know of the conduct he had scant days earlier defended as lawful. So, yeah, it looks like Archbishop Myers has been shielding a priest, previously found guilty of molesting, who entered a plea agreement rather than face retrial, and who violated the terms of the agreement. In 2013.

Donohue is so defensive of the hierarchy that he will can't keep his stories straight. On May 3, he wrote that:
Father Fugee now says he violated his agreement with the Newark Archdiocese and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; thus, his decision to step down. His dishonesty is appalling. Moreover, he has clearly impugned his character.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: any priest who is guilty of committing a crime, especially sexual abuse, should have the book thrown at him; he will get no defense from the Catholic League.
But now the very act about which Fugee was dishonest, and which "impugned his character" (Donohue uses language like a drunk lumberjack with an axe) is guilty of a mere triviality with no ill intent--it was in front of the boy's family, after all. One of the two incidents happened in front of the boy's mother, according to Fugee's confession, but the priest also notes that the boy "shut down immediately" when grabbed sexually by the priest, who admitted his excitement on both occasions.

Catholics deserve a better defender than this overwrought bullyboy. Thomas Doyle is certainly one. Pope Francis may well prove to be one; he's certainly off to a good start.


JudyJones said...

Bill Donohue may want everyone to believe the cover up of sex crimes is over, but in fact it is just beginning to open up. And not one high ranking church officials has been punished or fired for covering up those crimes, so they still think they can get away with it.

The sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still covering up sex crimes against kids, they are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they still are not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called "zero tolerance" policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don't have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids.

Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day. And until the windows are opened wide, nothing changes and kids are still at risk.
The brave souls who have created the "Catholic Whistleblowers Network" are to be commended for their courage and determination to support victims, expose the truth, and therefore protect kids today. Let's hope that others will have the courage to join them.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511.,
"SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

Anglocat said...

Agreed, Judy, on all points. I'm actually expanding a law review article I published last year on the canon law roots of the hierarchy's resistance to secular law enforcement into a book for laypeople; might it be possible for me to contact you offsite to discuss?