Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Self-preservation trumps mission in today's church

SO SEVERAL Toledo parishes didn't tell their members in church bulletins about credible charges of child sexual abuse against the Rev. Bernard Kokocinski.

No surprise. American Catholicism had to be sued into Good Shepherd behavior, caring for its flock more than its minions. And given that the Pope doesn't much like the "zero tolerance" line bishops reluctantly took toward the pederasts in their midst, what can anyone expect? The court agreement, you say? The fat lady has yet to trill.

Some solace may be found in the fact that the clerical skirmishes with good citizenship aren't confined to us. They're a worldwide phenomenon, say Brendan M. Case, Brooks Egerton, and Reese Dunklin, all Dallas Morning News reporters.

In a series of stories that began on June 21, the product of more than a year's work, they tracked clerical abusers to all the inhabited continents and found that not only was their access to children constant, but that their superiors lied about it. Around the world tarnished men have been fobbed off on credulous populations. It's sick.

Many of the victims were doubly victimized. Residents of predominantly Catholic countries in Latin America found that civil authorities had no interest in their complaints, and that people berated them for making accusations public.

Where religion is tied to the secular status quo, corruption will occur and people will suffer, whether they are in Muslim oligarchies of the Middle East or Catholic barrrios of Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica.

The Dallas stories, like most investigative initiatives getting dim notice by competitors, have more weight than Jason Berry's mid-1980s expose in the National Catholic Reporter. It revealed how a pedophile priest was cossetted in the New Orleans diocese, which paid an estimated $10 million for his sins. Mr. Berry's seminal work set the stage for the too-long-coming scandals of this decade. The Dallas stories show them to be ongoing and worldwide.

The pattern: Child-abusing clergy are denounced. Church authorities try to make light of it, or beg forgiveness, and urge no police be involved. Police don't prosecute. Things stay secret. Victims suffer again. Now we find the hierarchy is hiding some of them.

The Dallas reporters found more than 200 cases of clergy who avoided legal comeuppance with foreign postings. "Catholic leaders," they noted, "have used international transfers to thwart justice, a practice that poses far greater challenges to law enforcement than the domestic moves exposed." Their outing is bound to make a difference, in time.

As a result of one story, Samoa has deported and Australia arrested on five sex charges the Rev. Frank Klep, a fugitive Catholic priest, who didn't tell Samoan authorities of a conviction for child sexual abuse.

His religious order, the Salesians of Don Bosco, is in trouble as well for not telling. The Salesians deny trying to thwart the law, but they had posted another priest with unorthodox sexual appetites into Samoa. A plot against the unsophisticated? Samoans want to know.

Then there are the lies and the failure to inform. The Rev. Klep's Australian boss told the newspaper that he worked only with adults. Reporters found him in Samoa handing out candy to kids after Mass.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez of Honduras, who might succeed Pope John Paul II, put the Rev. Enrique Vasquez to work in two remote parishes when Vasquez was running from sexual offenses in Costa Rica, the Morning News found. With church help the priest has evaded the law for several years, in New York, in Hartford, in Mexico. A Costa Rican prosecutor pursued him, but not seriously.

Neither the cardinal nor Father Vasquez's Costa Rican bishop, Angel San Casimiro, would talk about the priest. Nor will the Rev. Norberto Rivera, Mexico City's cardinal, discuss the Rev. Nicolas Aguilar, who was run out of Mexico in 1987, and Los Angeles years later, where police say he had relations with 26 boys.

Then there's the pedophile Pakistani, the Rev. Yusaf Dominic, on the lam from England, hiding out in parishes in Italy.

The Dallas stories are not pretty. They tell of a corrupt institution more interested in self-preservation than mission or virtue. Only a case in the international criminal court in The Hague charging the Vatican with running an ongoing criminal conspiracy can stem the sick poison that is undoing the church.

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