If you come over to my place right now, you might get lucky.
I’ve just been reading the latest report about the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
The orders the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive: Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don’t tell anyone where you are going. Wait for further instructions.
Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash at a Catholic retreat center and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of state. By the time the victim’s family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.
“I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders,” he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.
The essay was part of a 330-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released Monday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders — the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians — while assigned to parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Rodriguez’s file stands out among the dozens of priest files that have become public in recent months because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.
The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez’s religious order, the Vincentians, and the LA archdiocese worked together to intercede. Both the order and the archdiocese knew of Rodriguez’s confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy’s family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.
“The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is,” said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.
There’s more at the link.
How in the name of everything that’s holy could any priest – much less a Bishop or the superior of an order – countenance such conduct? How could they betray God and His people so blatantly, so knowingly, so utterly ‘I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-morals-or-God-or-anything’ cold-bloodedly?
I gave my life to the Church . . . and they betrayed me, and every faithful priest they had, and basically threw us into the septic tank, by covering up ghastly sins like this, and then silencing us when we objected (including, in some cases, threatening the pensions and retirement living of older priests who objected). My life has never been the same since the scandal broke. I’ve written about it at length before (see my four part article, particularly Part 2, plus others in the sidebar), but I thought I’d been able to put it behind me. This latest news just reopened the floodgates.
The scandal isn’t over. It won’t be over in human terms until every single priest who betrayed his people and his calling so obscenely has been defrocked and put in jail. It won’t be over until every religious superior or official or bureaucrat who helped to cover up such crimes, as described in the article above, is also defrocked and punished for his crimes. It won’t be over until every Bishop and Archbishop and Cardinal who turned a blind eye to such goings-on, or helped with the cover-up, or (God help them) even ordered the cover-up, is defrocked as well. It won’t be over until all those who perverted the selection of candidates for the priesthood and their seminary education have been punished, and removed from any office from which they might continue to exercise their pernicious, evil influence. Right now, only the first of those groups of the guilty has been punished – and not all of them. Those in authority who covered up the scandal are largely still in office, or safely retired on a comfortable pension. Most of them haven’t suffered the consequences of their actions and decisions at all. They probably never will.
(And, of course, the scandal won’t be over until all of those who were its victims have died, and can at last find peace – even if it’s the peace of the grave. For many of them, they’ve been too badly scarred to know peace until then. I can only imagine, and shudder at, their feelings over this latest revelation.)
I know the Church claims to be the Body of Christ, founded by Christ Himself, Divinely ordained to accomplish His work on earth. I believed those claims, and once built my life around them. But, when one runs headlong into this . . . filth . . . again, and again, and again . . . how can anyone possibly regard her authority, in human terms, as anything but irredeemably compromised? May God forgive me, but I can’t. My gorge rises (literally) at the thought of submitting to such flawed authority again . . . and what that thought must induce in those who were the victims of this atrocity is something I hope and pray I never have to feel myself, because it might make me suicidal. It has driven some of them to suicide. Their deaths are blood on the hands of the Church that did and/or tolerated things like this.
May God have mercy on His Church, and on me, and on us all.