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virgins & martyrs

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 06, 2004

Here's what the plaintiff alleges: Belleville priest Raymond Kownacki convinced the (admittedly dim) parents of a 15-year old girl to let her live with him in his rectory on the grounds that she'd have better educational opportunities in his town. He abused her sexually while she kept house for him, performed a "manual abortion" on her, and threatened to harm her if she broke silence. When she finally told another priest and the then-bishop, they said her duty was to forgive Father Ray and put the past behind her. She didn't. Now the court wants Father Ray's mental health records to settle the "what did they know and when did they know it?" question. Public Law prof Marci Hamilton is not pleased by the diocese's stiff-arm:

Sadly, this particular diocese is headed by the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- Bishop Wilton Gregory, of Belleville, Illinois. He has repeatedly apologized to victims on behalf of the Conference, while cameras rolled. But now those apologies ring hollow, when his own diocese refuses to comply with a court order crucial to a victim's case. This is the leader who was supposed to lead the United States bishops to a new and better policy, and now we have proof of his actual intentions: just more of the same.

Hamilton's article is in part an essay for the abolition of a statute of limitations for sex abuse cases, and well illustrates the new willingness -- born of exasperation with the cynical exploitation of legal safeguards -- to do way with those safeguards altogether. We've seen the Gregory gesture before: the bishops throw back their shoulders and raise their chins and strike a pose of noble intransigency -- "Nay, though mine eyes be plucked from my head, never shall I betray my brethren! -- but it's not brave missionary priests they're hiding from pursuivants, they're covering for the slime de la slime, men that abused their power so as to prey on the weak, men that richly deserve punishment for their crimes. Of course, if they simply spoke the hard truth -- here's what we knew and here's when we knew it -- they could keep the records confidential and preserve the privilege. But that possibility appears to be out of the question.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 12, 2004 6:42 PM ET USA

    Why not join a conservative evangelical Lutheran Church after hearing these horrible things? Perhaps they have the same things. Perhaps becoming baptist? How horrible!!!!

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - May. 06, 2004 3:18 PM ET USA

    The only blood that Bishop Gregory appears willing to shed for the faithful is a paper cut suffered fanning himself with defense team legal briefs. Looks like things did, indeed, heat up under the ol' ecclesial mattress over Lent and now Easter. Can't wait to see what happens when the flames start for real on Pentecost. April showers do bring May flowers don't they? Vae victus.

  • Posted by: - May. 06, 2004 3:12 PM ET USA

    This is absolutely sick. That poor girl. Sent to a priest for an education and instead had a manual abortion of the priest's child by that same priest. That is sick. If I were the bishop I would have cracked that sick priest's skull.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - May. 06, 2004 2:47 PM ET USA

    ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.

  • Posted by: - May. 06, 2004 1:29 PM ET USA

    This case is just horrible. It makes your skin crawl. Far worse than the sickening acts of the twisted perpetrator are the actions of the "enablers" who could and should have exposed this traitor. The actual perverts are (I think) few and far between. But legion are those who have refused to expose them. The chief enablers have been bishops and cardinals who still hold their offices instead of weeping in hairshirts upon dungpiles. When will this stinking springtime end?

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