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Louis Untermeyer


Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

February 4, 2002

Those Crazy Priests

The Catholic Church had a bad, bad week. A lousy few weeks, actually.

It started in Boston, where archbishop Bernard Law admitted he kept a priest, Father John Geoghan, at work while knowing of several allegations of child sexual abuse against the now-former priest. Law transferred him from parish to parish rather than defrock the monster. Geoghan has since been convicted of abuse in one trial and faces more charges later this month.

It should go without saying, but Law should resign. Naturally, he doesn't agree. "My resignation is not part of the solution as I see it." The archbishop fails to realize he was part of the problem when he reassigned Geoghan in 1984, knowing he was a molester and subjecting further innocent children to abuse. His departure would remove some of the problem. 

Not only that, but the man's a liar. He wrote in a magazine he had no idea Geoghan was a molester. But court records unsealed afterward showed he knew all about Geoghan's obscene fondness for kids. 

Here's the history. Geoghan received complaints of sexually abusing kids as far back as the 1960s. Parents of victims informed other priests of the crimes, which allegedly included oral and anal rape, but Geoghan was moved to St. Andrew's in 1974, where he admitted to molesting seven boys.

Geoghan received counseling, and in 1981 was assigned to St. Brendan's. The church, appallingly, was not warned of his past. Not surprisingly, more allegations arose, and in 1984, Law took over as archbishop and transferred Geoghan to St. Julia's, assigning the child molester to run youth programs, knowing his past history of child molestation.

Geoghan underwent more therapy after additional complaints in 1989, so Law put him back to work for three more years. In total, Geoghan has faced 130 reports of child sex abuse since the 1960s, and thirty came under Law's supervision. The Boston diocese has paid $10 million (so far) to settle just a few of the lawsuits stemming from Geoghan's molestations.

But Geoghan wasn't the only one. According to the Boston Globe, Law "in the last 10 years has quietly settled child molestation claims against at least 70 priests." Nineteen present and former priests are accused pedophiles and four have been convicted. Two others face charges. 

As bad as that is, it isn't limited to Boston. Reported the Associated Press, "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson announced a settlement... with plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit that alleged four diocese priests had sexually molested children." There were sixteen plaintiffs and eleven lawsuits. Terms remained private, but the diocese apologized to the victims. The archdiocese, headed by Cardinal Roger Mahony, was also named in the suit.

Mahony is no stranger to sex abuse cases. According to Steve Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, the "Diocese of Stockton was ordered to pay $30 million - the largest amount ever per victim - to two brothers who were repeatedly molested by a priest in the 1980s. The lawsuit alleged that the diocese, headed by Mahony for part of the time in question, did little to end the abuse or assist the victims."

In Canada, a priest recently admitted from the lectern that he had brought in a priest who had been convicted of sexual abuse, but told no one. And this priest thinks he did the right thing, and is proud that he did not inform his parishioners. Can you believe the gall? The arrogance?

This is even happening overseas. The Catholic Church in Ireland has agreed to pay $110 million for several Irish kids who were molested by priests, nuns, and other officials. The church will give the money to the government in return for immunity against further suits. The money will go into a larger government compensation fund (much of the abuse occurred at state-funded schools). Victims said it should be more. With 3,000 to 7,000 potential victims, the government could pay out as much $430 million, forcing Irish taxpayers to pay for the sins of church and state.

Also last week, a priest in Florida confessed to dealing drugs from his church, and another priest in Iowa was charged with making and distributing the "date-rape drug" GHB. 

I had assumed that since these molestation cases broke several years ago, the Church had cracked down hard on pedophiliac priests. Apparently not. The Church instead has further covered up the crimes of its priests, quietly settling lawsuits, retaining molesters, and leaving the Catholic flock in the dark. It's no wonder so many Catholics have lost faith in the Church's leadership, and scores of others have lost faith in Christianity. It could even be said that Bernard Law and his ilk are doing the devil's work, driving potential and existing believers from the church and God. These leaders must be held accountable, both in this world and the next.

Pray for Pearl

All people of faith should pray for Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped by an extremist Islamic terrorist group in Karachi, Pakistan. The faceless cowards threatened to shoot Pearl if several Muslim terrorists were not released from jail. After an anonymous email claimed that Pearl had already been shot, Pakistani police combed graveyards in Karachi but found no body. Now no one knows Pearl's fate, and seemingly has no idea where he is being held.

Correction

In my Weekly Muse posted on January 21, I mentioned a clothing company that released a line called Fidel, which incorporated elements of the Cuban flag. I implied this was a tribute to Fidel Castro. I recently learned that the line is actually named after its designer, Fidel Ramos. My apologies to all involved.

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