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By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jun 03, 2003

From the text of the Phoenix Capitulation:

During the course of the grand jury's investigation, to this date, no credible evidence has been received that would establish that Thomas J. O'Brien personally engaged in criminal sexual misconduct. However, the investigation developed evidence that Thomas J. O'Brien failed to protect the victims of criminal sexual misconduct of others associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. This Agreement is executed upon the conclusion that the public interest would be best served by settling the matter without criminal prosecution of Thomas J. O'Brien or the Diocese.

Perhaps the public interest is indeed best served by an immunity deal that lets O'Brien skate. But is the Church's interest best served thereby? Read on:

The Diocese, in conjunction with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, shall implement a training program to educate Diocesan personnel on sexual misconduct issues, including the Mandatory Reporting Law (A.R.S. 13-3620), and Maricopa County's Multidisciplinary Protocol for the Investigation of Child Abuse. The Maricopa County Children's Justice Project Team will be invited to conduct regular and ongoing training of all Diocesan personnel, including the training of Diocesan school personnel.

The bishop admits he's facing the possibility of prison. He's uncomfortable with that. So what does he do? He sits down at the bargaining table and trades away the prerogative of the Church to train her own personnel, swapping the authority deeded to him by episcopal consecration in exchange for his semi-retirement spent in front of a VCR. Note that we're talking ongoing training of all diocesan personnel. Any guesses as to the kind of instructors likely to belong to the Children's Justice Project Team or their likely sympathy with orthodox Catholic teaching?

This is the point. Laypeople have become reconciled to the necessity of giving their own children less in order to pay Father's buggery bill -- "The Archbishop's Appeal," as it's known officially. So few will complain about about $750,000 the diocese has agreed to forfeit to purchase O'Brien's peace of mind. But education is another matter. Whence comes a bishop's authority to give over the Church's (not O'Brien's, the Church's) supremacy in the realm of inculcation? Anybody else see a problem with this?

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