This blog shares the author's opinions on our Church, its leaders and others, and occasionally raps their knuckles. She has a lot to say about priests in prison and the Church's treatment of them. She is also an animal lover, especially the wild ones.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
ACCUSED PRIESTS BEGINNING TO SPEAK OUT
by Charlene C. Duline
A few years ago I
wrote an article about priests accused of sexual abuse. I did not argue as to
their guilt or innocence. I simply pointed out the obvious, that as
Christians and as Catholics, we are to preach what our Lord prescribed –
compassion, love and above all, forgiveness. Some people thought I must
No, I’m afraid
that my opinion was not welcomed, not even in my own parish. However I did have
the support of my pastor and that meant a lot to me. I felt so strongly about
what our Church teaches us, that I wondered how our priests were treated in
prison. I wrote to a number of them, and most responded. As a result my
prison ministry was born, and I am the better for it.
As the scandal
continues, I notice that some parishioners have had enough of their priests
being accused without proof of anything, and then thrown to the streets.
And they have begun to speak up for their priests. Heretofore it had been
VOTF and the SNAP folk acting up, acting out, and in effect, crucifying any
priest who was accused. Thanks to those same folk, the accusations grew
exponentially, as did the amounts of money the bishops handed over on demand. Meanwhile,
the accused priests struggled alone in their agony with only our prayers to
comfort them. At least, I like to think that our prayers are of some
solace. Their brother priests are afraid to comfort them, to visit, or
even to write to priests in prison. Acutely aware of this, and knowing of the
hatred exhibited toward any accused priests, some of our priests left on the
edge of the abyss either committed suicide, went to prison and lost contact
with family and friends, or simply disappeared to live under a bridge as many
priests without any wherewithal do. Their bishops, no doubt, grinned and
glad-handed each other: another troublesome priest gone. Another crook
paid off. Another liar rewarded. Another insatiable, money-grubbing
attorney picked up another million dollars. Ah, the good bishops, simply doing
the attorneys’ will: handing out money faster than the parishioners could
place it into the collection plate.
And then one
priest decided to respond to the rumors and innuendoes about him and a woman.
As the gossip swirled about him, his parents, his previous position, he took
the bull by the horns and issued a letter. He hoped the letter would
clarify actions of which he was accused. Did it? Indeed not! Rather, it
brought out the crazies by the hundreds! Those who had never heard of
Father began clamoring to be heard! It was outrageous! They knew diddly-squat
about this priest, yet their mouths were open and gums flapping. Like
dogs, once one began barking, others joined in the barking until that was all
that could be heard. It was no longer about Father, but about every
priest who was ever accused. Were they clamoring for justice and honesty?
No, they yapped just to hear themselves yapping! I’m not even sure that they
heard themselves! And yet these good Catholics will go to Mass on Sunday, sit
angelically, reverently process to receive Holy Communion, and once Mass ends,
it’s back to yapping and damning all accused priests.
None of those yapping has lifted a finger in defense of
their priests. I realize the incentive of most parishioners is less than that
of SNAP’s. In order to keep the lawyers interested, the hate groups have to
shake the rafters (read: money tree) of the bishops, or their paid mouthpieces
won’t get any of the parishes’ money. They have to find some poor bastard with
no morals and little conscience, to lie and say that a priest groped him or her
40 or 50 years ago. So while
parishioners have less incentive to defend their priests than SNAP, defend them
they must. Or, soon and very soon, you
will be in a Church all by yourselves. Who will be left to consecrate the
Eucharist? The bishops? Dream on.
One priest who is not depending on his parishioners to
defend him is a fiery priest in Philadelphia. Father DiGregorio was one of
several priests accused and removed from ministry while their cases were being reviewed
by the archdiocese. A woman had accused Fr. DiGregorio of abusing her 43 years
ago. He vehemently denied the
accusation, and went on a radio talk show to defend himself. He said,
“I hope I’m not being made a fall guy. I hope the diocese would not do
that.” Well, of course that was just
wishful thinking and a prayerful hope.
The dioceses have shown that they can, and will, turn on a dime against
their priests at the first whiff of a scandal. Father DiGregorio was removed, reinstated,
and then removed again when Philadelphia authorities and the hate groups made
their unhappiness known. Innocent or guilty, accused priests have the right to
speak out – and a duty - to confront their accusers. The Catholic Church has
forgotten the law of the land.
Our priests have been
silent for far too long. It is past time
for them to fight back. They should not
allow their bishops to send them away while accusers come out of the woodwork,
as lawyers place ads in newspapers begging,
begging people to come forward. An
accused priest should not slink away and never be heard from again. That leaves
only the hate groups and their repulsive lawyers’ voices being heard. With few exceptions, our bishops are
shameless. Surely they are seeing the
results of their warped policy created in Dallas. They are not listening to the canon lawyers
who are skilled in Church law, or to the few good, decent bishops. Is it any wonder that the grubby, greedy
attorneys continue getting down and dirty in looking for people without morals
to accuse innocent priests? Common sense
should tell us that all of the priests accused are not guilty.
It is also time for those in the pews to get off their duffs
and help their priests! For centuries we have revered our priests. They give up a lot to minister to us as God’s
priests. How often do we thank them, pray for them, or give them a hug? I love our priests, and they will always be
very special people to me. Yes, some
priests are sick and should not be ministering, and they are being removed from
parishes. But we cannot throw up our
hands and say nothing when a good priest is accused of something from 30, 40 or
50 years ago. That is an outrage! That is when our priests need us, especially
if there is no proof. We have priests in
prison who have served longer than someone who has murdered several people. U.S.
prosecutors now target priests, and they have the help of SNAP’s vociferous
mobs outside the courtrooms poisoning the minds and hearts of jurors and
playing to the cameras.
It’s a new day.
Priests are beginning to put everybody on notice that they might go down
swinging, but that they will be
heard. And beside them will be those of
us who do not believe that every accused priest is guilty. It is time for
parishioners to support our priests. If
not, soon there will be very few priests and it will be our fault for letting
the hateful few – you know who you are - continue to drown out voices of
reason, justice and compassion.
Let's support and love our priests and let the devil take the hindmost!