Grow up!

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 23, 2007

If you read the newspaper accounts you can easily piece together what happened. Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo, New York, encountered a man named William Parks, who has been highly critical of diocesan policies. There was an argument, tempers flared, and the bishop probably waved his finger. Parks claims that Kmiec jabbed him in the chest. One witness supports that charge; all other eyewitnesses say there was no physical contact.

This is the sort of regrettable incident that mature adults usually try to put behind them, once the heat of the moment has passed. Not in this case. Parks filed a criminal complaint of harassment against the bishop, and the Buffalo diocese shot back by asking a local prosecutor to investigate Parks for filing a false report.

Harassment is a crime. Filing a false police report is a crime, too. Thus instead of apologizing for losing their tempers, both men tried to roll in the heavy artillery of the law-enforcement system, escalating the battle.

District attorney David Foley wisely declined to get involved. After a quick investigation he declared that "no criminal activity" had occurred. He announced, in effect that poking a finger in someone's chest (if indeed that happened), may be rude, but it is not a criminal offense. Similarly, charging harassment may be an overreaction, but it is not a criminal offense either. In Foley's words:

In no means am I calling into question Mr. Parks nor am I calling into question the bishop in this situation or indicating that I find for one as compared to the other. Given what I have received, it just does not rise to the level where anything should be charged.

After Foley announced his decision, Parks issued his own statement, asking for prayers that Bishop Kmiec would "find peace to replace the anger in his heart," and asking the diocese to acknowledge that he had not submitted a false report. He said that he would not be bothering the bishop anymore, because he thought it would be "counterproductive." That's not exactly a handsome apology, but at least Parks was ready to call off the battle.

And what about the bishop? The Buffalo diocese claimed that Parks had "impugned the character, reputation and integrity of the bishop with a false and very public accusation." In effect the diocese renewed the charge that Parks had filed a false report: the charge that Foley had just declined to pursue.

Foley's decision, the diocese claimed, “confirm what Bishop Kmiec and several eyewitnesses have maintained all along." That doesn't jibe with Foley's own statement that he did not mean to "find for one as compared to the other." But it does let us know that the Buffalo diocese isn't ready to let the matter drop.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2007 1:02 PM ET USA

    How often are we to forgive, oh Lord? Seven times? Reply:(Please pay attention Bp.) Seventy times seven times etc.. 'Nuf said.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 7:41 PM ET USA

    Memory-refreshment time! I do believe this is the same Kmiec who threw one of his deacons under the bus after the deacon behaved - like a deacon! The deacon was delivering a homily against abortion. He decried Catholic pro-abortion politicians, and one by name. It turns out the pro-abort was in his congregation and stormed out in a huff. The bishop and the pastor fell all over themselves, groveling at the pro-abort's feet. If Kmiec apologizes to a pro-abort, why not this fellow? Hmmm!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 5:54 PM ET USA

    One of the wisest things one of my mentors taught me is that I should pick my battles wisely. Every leader should learn that. Some folks should simply be ignored.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 5:12 PM ET USA

    Bishops are human also, but the Diocesan statements are rediculous. Mons laborantur, erupit rediculus mus.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 4:58 PM ET USA

    Without knowing what these two people actually said, the whole thing is silly. It must have been a slow news day.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 3:49 PM ET USA

    Two angry men have a verbal confrontation and that's tantamount to "open season" on the Church? That's a strech. How about the open season on young Catholic males conducted by a cabal of homosexual priests and bishops? Or how about the 40-year (and counting) open season on Tradition conducted by fanatic modernists clerics?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 2:15 PM ET USA

    People can't go around making accusations in public, only to later proclaim a left handed apology (if that is what you call it) hoping the the other side will be as charitable. The bishop could have been more forgiving and charitable, but I can not hold that against him. Attack part of the church and you attack the whole church.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2007 12:53 PM ET USA

    From all I've read, I agree with the bishop. It's open season on clergy, and anything a priest or bishop says or does seems to trigger instant litigation. Once Parks realized that he was going nowhere in the courts, he backed off. In the meantime, the bishop's name and reputation are damaged. No, the bishop should continue to hold such scurrilous behavior accountable...otherwise, it will continue.