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"just little old me ..."

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 08, 2006

The NCR [tip to Amy] has a lengthy article on the situation in the Spokane Diocese precipitated by clergy abuse. It focuses on one abuser in particular, Fr. Patrick O'Donnell, and on the role played by Spokane's current bishop, USCCB president William Skylstad. As often, the responsible churchmen fortuitously develop memory lapses at those moments when accurate testimony would imperil their careers or their liberty:

But just two weeks after O'Donnell's ordination in June of 1971, Topel received a complaint that O'Donnell had molested a young student at the Mater Cleri Seminary outside Spokane. Still, the diocese named O'Donnell director of the Catholic youth ministry and allowed him to serve as chaplain to the Boy Scouts. He arrived at Assumption Parish in 1974 after abuse complaints arose at another parish. Skylstad, then pastor of Assumption, has denied knowing of those allegations. (Although parishioners have long marveled at Skylstad's ability to recall names and faces, the bishop used variations of the phrase "I can't remember" or "I cannot recall" over 500 times during his three days of court deposition.)

In his deposition, Skylstad said he "remonstrated" O'Donnell when notified by a parishioner that the priest was having the boys stand on the auditorium stage and wash their naked genitals after gym class. The two men shared cramped living quarters in the parish rectory. O'Donnell slept in the basement.

"It's just little old me," numerous victims remember Skylstad saying when he'd return home upstairs.

The article is interesting in its attempt to report the interests pursued by heterogeneous groups of affected persons: victims, parishioners, priests, victim's lawyers -- although Skylstad himself refused to be interviewed, and we don't get even off-the-record remarks from chancery insiders. Also, since the article is principally concerned with the competing interests at stake in the legal battle for compensation, we don't get any insight into where the players are located on the ideological or theological map. On one hand, this means we're spared the usual commercial for married clergy and woman priests; on the other, there's no attempt to ask how this particularly disastrous power-constellation of bishops, seminary rectors, and vocation recruiters got control of the apparatus in the first place and remains in control today.

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 14, 2006 6:48 PM ET USA

    I overlooked an obvious duty of bishops --to ordain a valid clergy. This has been a problem in certain places. But we need priests and bishops ordain them. That should be enough for them to concentrate on. More seems to be beyond the capacity of most of them.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Nov. 12, 2006 8:13 AM ET USA

    It is the homosexual clerical mafia, the instument of the Evil One that is to blame. We need to call a spade a spade and begin the reformation of the clergy.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 10, 2006 3:59 PM ET USA

    The bishop's job is mainly to administer the sacrament of Confirmation, appoint pastors, their helpers and keep the schools operating according to Roman Catholic teaching. Beyond that, financial solvency and distribution of funds is out of their area of expertise and shoulkd be handled by laymen.The bishops need to implement the decrees of the Pope and his Curia.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Nov. 09, 2006 4:00 PM ET USA

    I cannot think of one serious reason for the USCCB to continue to exist as then-Cdl.-Bernardin & his buddies established it: on a business-CEO model. The bishops should just listen to/obey the Holy Father. If they need to meet, they can do that once/year, to offer Mass, pray the Divine Office, & get spiritual direction from an orthodox priest or bishop. It's scandalous that they meet in 5-star hotels, with luxury suites, daily limousine service, & dinners at the most expensive restaurants.

  • Posted by: Sterling - Nov. 08, 2006 4:50 PM ET USA

    You should all read the original article, for which you'll find the link above. You'll never want to give a penny to Chuch institutions again, when you see how it could all - all - be handed over to lawyers. One parish raised a million dollars for a new church. It's been frozen in diocesan proceedings, and these people have no idea if their parish will see the money again.

  • Posted by: Gino - Nov. 08, 2006 3:27 PM ET USA

    Just another reason to get rid of the USCCB. They spend millions defending their mistakes and deliberate oversights. It's time the bishops had to stand on their own without ther "propaganda" machine. Molesting priests, lack of instruction to the laity, cowardice to face abortion, the "Catholic" policos who endorse it, lack of mass attendance etc. Maybe more time should be spent in their diocese instead of playing corporate chieftan at the USCCB.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Nov. 08, 2006 12:56 PM ET USA

    I like the attempt to affect a Dizzy Gillespie gesture.

  • Posted by: Catholicity - Nov. 08, 2006 11:55 AM ET USA

    Don't kiss that ring, son, you don't know where it's been.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 08, 2006 11:37 AM ET USA

    good picture... this is our current leadership! "there is none so blind, as he who refuses to see." or, just maybe, they're just one of THEM ?!

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