Mudcat Café message #3489678 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149850   Message #3489678
Posted By: Joe Offer
12-Mar-13 - 05:23 PM
Thread Name: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Subject: RE: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Gee, it looks like I stirred up a can of worms. I worked as a government investigator for thirty years - so I take crime seriously, but don't tend to get excited about it. I'm sorry if you view my dispassionate response as uncaring. I really am concerned about the sexual molestation scandal in the Catholic Church, and I want it to be resolved.

Still, my thirty years as an investigator compels me to work from the facts, and from a view of what is and what is not an effective response.

Much is made of the story of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. The evidence indicates that Murphy molested as many as 200 deaf students at the school from 1952 until he was removed from active ministry in 1974 (Murphy died in 1998). There's no question about this - this is a horrific crime. It appears the crime wasn't prosecuted, but it doesn't appear that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee did anything to interfere with criminal prosecution. The flap about the Murphy case, was that the Cardinal Ratzinger failed to laicize Murphy. Murphy was not allowed to function as a priest, but many forces would not be satisfied until Murphy would no longer be a priest. Laicisation, which is a theological process usually based on elements that made the ordination invalid from the time it took place, is commonly known as "defrocking"; although it seems to me that removal of the function of priesthood would be a more apt thing to label "defrocking." When you're removed from your job as a baker, you're no longer a baker - but you still have the degree you earned at culinary school. So, since the guy wasn't functioning as a priest for the last 20 years of his life, it seems to me that he was functionally defrocked. I can't understand why he wasn't prosecuted in criminal court, however. Still, the criminal conduct ended in 1977.

The bishops of the United States put their most recent and most stringent measures against child molestation into effect in 2002, but they began taking measures in the mid-1960s. Yeah, there still are dioceses that are reluctant to release personnel files. As an investigator, I fought companies and government agencies about the release of records for thirty years. Companies have reasons to protect their records, and investigators have reasons to demand them. That's just the way it works. If an organization refuses an investigator, that's one thing. If that organization releases a court order for release of records, that's another. And yeah, you could pick on the Vatican's diplomatic immunity as a cover for releasing records - but the originals of most of those records are stored in the country of origin and available there if requested by court order. As an investigator, I did my best to obtain records from the originator, not the recipient.

There's no question that government officials and church officials in Ireland were in collusion in the industrial schools and in the Magdelene Laundries, and both sides are trying to protect their own asses and blame the other side. Once again, though, remember that the laundries and schools were closed by the 1990s, thus ending the abuse that took place there.

The child molestation crisis in the U.S. was mostly sorted out in 2002-2003. It is moving toward conclusion in Ireland, and I think the rest of Europe is a year or two behind. I'm sure that child molestation took place in the Catholic Church in Africa, Asia, and South America - but I don't know much about the state of things in those continents.

As a security specialist, I can tell you that the measures taken by the U.S. bishops are quite good - and Ireland and Continental Europe appear to be adopting similar measures. ALL employees and volunteers are screened and trained; and those working directly with children go through stricter training and screening, including fingerprints and criminal records checks.

If you look at the statistics, you will find a dramatic drop in the molestation of children by priests since about 2000. Offenses are now quite rare, and no bishop in his right mind would allow such offenses to continue or to go unprosecuted - the penalty is now too severe. What is happening now, worldwide, is the process of assessing blame and distributing compensation. It's a complicated process, and it's being carried out mostly by lawyers, not bishops. It's messy, and it's not good for public relations, but it's a process that must be done.

I understand the outrage. I guess I'm past the outraged stage because I knew about much of this in the 1970s, and I have been working toward the elimination of child molestation since then.

When there are facts available, I will seek verification - that's my nature as an investigator. I may question information that seems overblown, but I have never been one to deny verified information. I do try to put things into context and proportion and I realize that can be annoying to those who are in full-blown outrage - but it is only through facts and understanding that we can resolve problems such as this. I fully acknowledge that the child molestation scandal and subsequent coverup in the Catholic Church was widespread, and it was truly an abomination.

There are those of you who think I'm unqualified to comment on Catholic affairs outside of Wisconsin and California, but I assure you that I have worked hard to have a global perspective. I have close friends who have worked as priests and nuns in all the continents except Antarctica, and many were born in the countries where they worked. I'm an investigator with a theology degree who has worked and taught in the Catholic Church, and I've traveled extensively and can communicate in several languages. So, yeah, I think I'm quite well qualified to give objective information about happenings in the Catholic Church - and I try very hard to be objective and factual. And yes, I think that people who haven't set foot in a Catholic church for twenty years, are a bit less able to comment knowledgeably about the current state of affairs.

Oh, and let me assure you that as a rule, I don't like bishops and I don't trust them - with a few exceptions.