Saturday, October 22, 2011
THE SCANDAL OF FORGIVENESS; THE SCANDAL OF THE CROSS; BISHOP ROBERT FINN DESERVES BETTER
For secular folks and progressive Catholics, sin is horrifying only if it is also a secular crime. The moral and legal outrage against the abuse of children and teenagers by anyone but especially Catholic clergy is justified. Who would disagree with that?
While this may not be the case today, it certainly was a short time back, like only twenty or more years ago where families who experienced a family member like a brother, an uncle, a father or mother who abused one of their children were reluctant to air their dirty laundry publicly. Often times others in denial looked the other way, didn't think it was as bad as it actually was or made other accommodations to keep the family together, or there was divorce. Usually law enforcement was not called. Who in the family wanted good old dad or mom, the eccentric uncle, the immature brother arrested and thrown into jail? Who wanted the public humiliation of being written up in the newspaper or reported on television news and the disruption of family life due to a jail sentence?
What Catholic parent wanted their child to testify against a priest and wound that child more than already wounded? Many Catholic parents of children who were abused were happy for quiet settlements and the transfer of the priest away from their parish. Bishops were only too happy to accommodate and keep things quiet to avoid scandal. At that time, what Catholic bishop wanted to report his spiritual son to the authorities no matter how guilty that son was?
To say that bishops and other priests responded like the families I describe would be an understatement. Usually part of denial is trying to give the one who acts suspiciously the benefit of the doubt and to try to do everything to avoid scandal including minimizing the sin and crime that could lead to the scandal arrest, public scrutiny, trial and jail. This happened all too frequently in the past; perhaps it still happens today in the Church and in the family. Who but God knows? We're only human after all.
The other part of the scandal has to do with forgiveness and healing. The God given gifts of grace leading to faith, hope and love enable the Church to believe that both are possible. Secular society and even Catholics formed more in secular thought not Catholic teaching find forgiveness and healing absurd and scandalous. But the Church dogmatically teaches that the sinner can be forgiven and the victims of sin, no matter what kind of sin, can, must forgive and be healed. The goal of the Church through the grace of God and His Son's death and resurrection is to work for forgiveness and reconciliation even here on earth for this is a sign of heaven, where anyone who is redeemed and in the presence of Christ is not only reconciled with God and His Church but also with every single person in the world who may have harmed or victimized them or others. Even if someone is in hell deserving of eternal punishment, those in heaven will love them. Of course the ones in hell cannot for eternity forgive; they wallow in the desperation of victimization and hatred toward those who harmed them. They eternally hate God who created their victimizers. They cannot forgive; they don't want to; they reject forgiveness and in doing so reject God.
The sad case involving a priest in Kansas City who had pornographic images of children on his computer and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri (successor of Bishop Kevin Boland's brother, Bishop Raymond Boland)who failed to report him to the authorities for five months after discovering the images on the priest's computer is another part of this sordid scandal. Bishop Finn is the first American bishop to be charged with a misdemeanor crime involving the sex abuse scandal for failing to report the priest to the authorities immediately. Pundits for victims and sex abuse victims themselves are gleeful about his public humiliation and the possibility of a year in jail for this misdemeanor crime.
The rush to judgment by progressive Catholics, the secular media and those who want blood, not forgiveness, is truly astounding. Perhaps they were schooled in the coloring book catechetics of the 1960's and '70's and missed the scandal of the Cross (since the Mass for them is only a happy, clappy, McDonald's meal affair)and the use of the sacrament of penance is as obsolete as is mortal sin and repentance leading to penance and reconciliation. Who knows? But read on from the Catholic League:
BISHOP FINN DESERVES BETTER
October 21, 2011
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the controversy over Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn:
The Catholic League will have a lot to say about Bishop Finn and his accusers over the next few weeks. For now, we want to make it clear that we stand by him without reservation. Why? Not because he is a bishop, but because nothing he did deserves the kind of mad reaction against him that is emanating from many quarters. In a short time, we will lay out the details of our support for him. But for now, keep in mind the following:
Many strange photos (crotch-focused) of young girls, fully clothed, were found on the laptop of a priest last December; one showed a girl naked. Though Bishop Finn never saw it, he was told of it. The result? The picture was described to a police officer the next day, and an attorney for the Diocese was shown the photo. It was determined that the photo, while disturbing, did not constitute child pornography. The priest learns that they’re on to him; he attempts suicide; he almost dies; he recovers; he is sent for treatment; he is not considered to be a pedophile, but is said to be suffering from depression; he is then placed in a spot away from children; he is subjected to restrictions. After violating the restrictions, the cops are called; more damaging photos are then found.
This account is quite different from what is being bandied about in the media. To take one example, there is an editorial in today’s New York Times saying that Bishop Finn “knew of the photos last December but did not turn them over to the police until May.” This makes it sound as if Finn knew about hundreds of photos of child pornography and he did nothing about it. In fact, there was one photo, that was not sexual in nature, that was found. Moreover, a police officer and an attorney were notified immediately. Later, after the priest proved to be recalcitrant, the police were contacted.
As I said, we will have a lot more to say about this issue. Stay tuned.
Contact our director of communications about Donohue’s remarks: