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Openness in Oakland

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Dec 08, 2004

Remember the Dominican house in Oakland that put its neighbors in a stir when it turned out to be housing seven former sexual offenders? A local councilwoman has organized a town hall meeting to give the citizenry a chance to voice their concerns on the matter. Guess who's decided not to be present.

Jane Brunner, Oakland city councilwoman: "I'd like the leaders of the seminary to hear the neighbors and to see what the neighbors think. Is there support for this, are they opposed to this? And then, try to solve it together." The Dominican order of priests runs the seminary, but they are refusing to attend Brunner's meeting.

Brunner tells us [the ABC-News team], the head of the Dominicans' western province, Father Roberto Corral, didn't want to face our cameras again or members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

It turns out that Corral has invited select neighbors to a meeting of his own contrivance, to be held at the Dominican Priory.

Annette Floystrup, St. Albert's neighbor: "It's difficult to criticize people in their own house, and I believe they're counting on that." Many neighbors are upset that the seminary will address the controversy only on their own terms -- no media, no survivors of clergy abuse, and no city officials present.

Annette Floystrup: "I find that reprehensible. What they're saying is we want to stage manage this meeting, we want to be absolutely sure that we control all of the information."

Corral is reproducing, on a small scale, the strategy by which the larger U.S. Church has parried efforts of reformers to derail gay clergy: the game is to stonewall until you have filtered out the unruly element to the point you have the remaining appellants in a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose situation. With a docile population it works exceptionally well. Says the ABC-News team:

Father Corral refused to speak with us today. We stopped by his office next door to the seminary. But we received a copy of the letter he's sending out to some neighbors. He confirms the seminary is "housing several friars with histories of sexual misconduct," and he "sincerely apologizes for not having informed you earlier."

Doubtless it slipped his mind. Another victim of poor record keeping.

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