Only a bishop could say it

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Jan 16, 2004

As they say, the devil is in the details. The policy adopted by the US bishops in Dallas in 2002 may look good on paper, but how it's implemented is the tricky part. Case in point: One Kentucky diocese says a priest had a credible allegation against, paid out a settlement, and suspended him. But another Kentucky diocese says the allegation wasn't credible and reinstates him. Fr. William Poole pled guilty in 2001 to playing with himself in a public restroom. In 1990 he was arrested in a prostitution sting and paid a fine. Those incidents are not in dispute.

But Poole was also accused of abusing a 15-year-old boy in 1972 when what is now the Diocese of Lexington was part of the Diocese of Covington. He denied the claim. The diocese conducted separate investigations and Covington decided the claim was credible. Lexington decided it wasn't. Neither reported it to police, claiming the other diocese was responsible.

Meanwhile Poole, who we remember pled guilty to two sex-related offenses, has been reinstated. He won't be permanently assigned to a parish but will fill in at parishes for sick leaves and vacations.

[Lexington Bishop Robert] Gainer said he believes Poole won't commit any more sex-related offenses.

"Father Poole is receiving professional help, and I've had two serious conversations with him about the obligations regarding his lifestyle, and I do trust that he will make every effort to live a life in accord with his priestly duties," Gainer said.

What's missing from the bishop's comments? Any mention of moral duty, any hint of a spiritual problem, any idea of sin. The statement is so bland, he could be referring to a drinking problem, financial problems, or just about anything under the sun. What makes the bishop's comments different from what we would hear from the CEO of some company?

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2004 3:30 PM ET USA

    I genuinely think that these bishops believes they ARE the CEOs. They continue the pattern of covering up these abuses for fear that if the investors and stockholders (laity) were to discover the abuses and mismanagement they would either reduce or cease making contributions. (no Taj Mahoney) There does not seem to be any recourse or justice for the stockholders in this case. Bishops appear to be accountable to no one in this world. If I kept my receipts may I request a refund?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2004 1:34 PM ET USA

    What makes the bishop's comments different from what we would hear from the CEO of some company? The difference is someone may fire and incarcerate the CEO.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2004 1:15 PM ET USA

    Bp. Gainer is formerly from my diocese. I am not surprised by this. The RCIA material suggested under his term was devoid of solid Catholic teaching. I know I was to some of the workshops. It was all sweet meditations on daily Mass Readings with no real content. He got along well with the rad femmes who called him "our Monsignor". Luke warm is the best description I can give. Not really a dissendent but a canon lawyer who acts like a lawyer. Political savvy, hidden spiritually.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2004 12:06 PM ET USA

    This bishop sounds like a parent who refuses to discipline his child, for fear he won't be liked anymore. "I've talked to him about it, and I'm sure he won't do it anymore." Even when they're in prison.