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The DMN SERIES

By Fr. Wilson ( articles ) | Jun 18, 2004

As is well known by now in Catholic blogdom, we are waiting for the Sunday commencement of a series in the Dallas Morning News on the latest investigations into a hitherto unexplored facet of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

This morning, DMN reporter Brooks Egerton was featured on National Public Radio, offering a low-key overview of what is coming. For over a year, he and a colleague have been exploring the ramifications on the Scandal of the international nature of the Church. He has discovered hundreds of cases of priests who were accused of sexual abuse -- even convicted -- who were quietly, conveniently moved to another country, out of the reach of the law. Some of these men had served in America, both American citizens and externs; others had served elsewhere and were moved here after getting in trouble.

One Salesian had gotten in trouble in several South American countries; he surfaced in Chicago, having presented a letter of recommendation from his Superiors. Another, whom the Salesian Order had said was in a rural area with no ministry and no access to children, surfaced in Samoa with an active parish ministry, passing out candy on the church steps to kids and tutoring them... in his bedroom.

The material they have collected is vast, and this investigative report, dealing with other Religious Orders and with dioceses in six continents, will be both extensive and prolonged over weeks. It will give much food for thought to those credulous souls who credited episcopal assertions that the scandal is "History" and the cover-ups over.

The bishops' conference reminds me of a Victorian family lined up for a photo, everyone holding his breath, saying "Cheese" and deathly still. They came out of their Dallas 2002 meeting with a carefully prescripted protocol which put virtually all of the blame and definitely all of the accountability on priests, neatly sidestepping the question of episcopal accountability. Since then, they've presented themselves as The Solution to the quagmire, all the while biding their time until the attention of the country was diverted elsewhere. Rudely, a few of them broke formation over the Kerry Kommunion Kapers, but, by and large, they're still holding their breath, hoping that things return to 'Normal,' assuring us all that the Crisis is past -- and, Lord knows, not even beginning to address the many areas of crisis in the Church's life in this fortieth year of 'Renewal.'

How rude of the Dallas Morning News to look under the bed at the chaotic mess that had been swept out of sight. It is still common to hear a certain type of Catholic sneer at the reporting on the Scandal with dismissive references to the 'anti-Catholicism' of the Boston Globe or the Dallas Morning News; "You know, Father, they're no friends of ours. They hate the Faith," I've heard time and again.

Surprising that the DMN reporters, given their extensive exposure to the life of the Church and the antics of our fathers in God, aren't edified into the full communion of Holy Mother Church, isn't it?

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