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is secrecy history too?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 19, 2004

From the U.S. Bishops' Charter:

In the past, secrecy has created an atmosphere that has inhibited the healing process and, in some cases, enabled sexually abusive behavior to be repeated. As bishops, we acknowledge our mistakes and our role in that suffering, and we apologize and take responsibility for too often failing victims and our people in the past. We also take responsibility for dealing with this problem strongly, consistently, and effectively in the future.

From yesterday's article on the monastic existence of ex-bishop and confessed sex-abuser Anthony O'Connell:

Eventually, eight men came forward and accused O'Connell of sexual abuse when they were minors, said Patrick Noaker, a Minnesota attorney representing alleged victims. ... All the legal actions against O'Connell are civil suits. O'Connell has taken the Fifth Amendment during the deposition sessions for those suits, Noaker said. The statute of limitations has protected O'Connell from criminal prosecution, Noaker said.

Why do O'Connell's brother bishops allow him to take the Fifth, if they're committed to taking responsibility for the harm they inflicted? How does the Fifth Amendment serve the cause of truth here? If they wished, the bishops could bring extraordinary pressure to bear on O'Connell to do the right thing by the victims -- and aid his own salvation -- by making a clean breast of his crimes. Unlike nailing covenants to cathedral doors for the news cams, this is an opportunity to accomplish a concrete good. Even if they ultimately failed in their effort, and O'Connell skipped to the Dutch Antilles, it would count as a good faith move.

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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: windsor - Apr. 24, 2004 2:32 PM ET USA

    He's "taking the Fifth" for the same reason Catholic pro-abortion politicians use the "personally opposed, but..." routine--the "wall of separation" allows them to act in the civil arena as if they were not Christ-followers, yet still invoke their "private" religion for all to see. The difference is, McConnell is in a monastery doing penance because he knows the Just Judge's punishment will be severe and cannot be avoided, the politicians don't get it.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 20, 2004 4:38 PM ET USA

    Yes, I think that it would be better for the bishops to face a sterner form of justice than is happening here...but I would be more than content with this 'lesser justice' if it were more widely applied. If all of the bishops who had hid (or even promoted) sexual deviancy among their priests (or in their own lives) went to seclusion in monasteries and such (which many of these bishops would see as severe punishment), the American church would be well over half-way to the necessary reforms...

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Apr. 20, 2004 8:42 AM ET USA

    The spin would be that his agreement to be deposed would be a personal decisison and a legal matter: The moral claims of the Church on O'Connell were satisfied in his resignation. Everything in the Charter, as we say in business, is BS because there's nothing objective or measurable in them to allow one to see progress against goal: Soft goals for soft men.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2004 5:58 PM ET USA

    I have to agree, a Bishop of this 'caliber' could not be expected to pick up his cross and be crucified. Unlike the thief who hung beside the Blessed Lord, this Bishop obviously does not believe he should be punished for his crimes and sadly, it appears his fellow Bishops do not either. I know the day of judgement will not be one I look forward to, save for my Lord's pleading my case of His Blood being shed, but how can these Bishops even bear the thought of facing their own day of reckoning?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2004 5:14 PM ET USA

    Well, at least O'Connell left Palm Beach and went to the monastery where he is praying and shovelling chicken "stool", among other duties. This is where we want all these miscreants to go and this is what they need to do. The only problem is that they somehow get "rehabilitated" and show up as guest presiders at Johnny's Confirmation or Deacon Jimmy's Ordination. I pray for this man and those like him - that they will be truly converted and spend the rest of their lives doing penance.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 19, 2004 4:01 PM ET USA

    Unlike nailing covenants to cathedral doors for the news cams, this is an opportunity to accomplish a concrete good. Yes, Diogenes, but you are asking them to be Nailed to the Cross, which, as everyone knows, is an activity for Rad Trads like Mel Gibson, not for a cufflinked episcopacy.

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