Eyes Wide Open

By Warren E. Mason
Religious News On-line
Downloaded January 11, 2003

Open your eyes before you drop that envelope in the basket.

Open them wide or shut them and pray that everything will go away!

Many in the Catholic laity continue to be more than willing to shut their eyes, as they cede to the Church an integral sense of entitlement to both their money, as well as the power that’s derived from that money.

Wishing and hoping that the Catholic Church hierarchy and its priests have an innate sense of good and will do the right thing; for the right reasons, does not make it so.

It’s become all to clear that these so called leaders believe that doing what’s right for their church is not analogous to doing the right thing.

“The duplicity of America’s bishops is manifested every time a clerical sex offender gets a paycheck from the church, while many of the victims of that abuse have no means to fund much needed counseling” states Mark Serrano, board member of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

How else to explain the wild spending and continued payments to priests who have either admitted their guilt or been convicted in a court of law of molesting members of their own flock?

Bishop William Murphy spends millions to refurbish his new residence; at the same time evicting the nun’s who lived there and cutting a mental health program that helped hundreds because of “insufficient funding”.

The Rev. John Hanlon, still considered a priest in good standing by the Diocese of Boston; he continues to be paid a pension and health benefits. Since 1992, his checks have been sent to Norfolk State Prison, where he is serving three consecutive life sentences for the sexual abuse of alter boys!

Or the Rev. Richard Lavigne; a Massachusetts priest; convicted of felony child abuse more than ten years ago, the Rev. Lavigne continues to be the primary suspect in the unsolved murder of a 13 yr. old alter boy.
Rev. Lavigne and six other priests in his diocese, all of whom have been removed from ministry for sexual indiscretions are still on the payroll! Approximate cost to this diocese in fiscal 2002- $130,000.

We should all be so lucky to have these kinds of bosses. Rape, pillage… and I’ll take care of you forever!

Like compulsive gamblers spending house money, these bishops show little discretion and give little or no heed to what the laity thinks!

Tell that to the family of Danny Croteau, a 13 year old boy last seen with Fr. Lavigne on the night of the boys’ murder.

And how about that term – “removed from active ministry”. Are we supposed to feel comforted by that term? It means that the molester can kick back, while being paid with money donated by the laity and in turn use that money to entice other victims.

Unless the church intends to slap an electronic monitoring device on each of these offenders and keep them under lock and key 24 hours a day, there is no way anyone should feel reassured by this lip service.

Lets be clear; this is a predatory crime committed by men who most in the medical community feel suffer from an incurable disorder.

Rev. Paul Shanley is released on bail and rightly all are concerned; yet there are hundreds of others just like Shanley, roaming free, carrying the title of Fr. and being paid by their dioceses.

Should we be more afraid of Fr. Shanley or the hundreds of others we know nothing of?

Isn’t the abuse of one child bad enough or is it only the shock of the many that gets our attention?

“Something is manifestly wrong when the forgiveness that is possible for all repentant sinners is confused with restoring the sinner to a public trust” notes George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in a Dec. 17 article in the Los Angeles Times.

As long as the Catholic laity closes their eyes and drops that envelope in the basket, without regard to the ultimate destination of those funds, they will be enablers to these heinous crimes.

If the Catholic hierarchy isn’t going to do the right thing for the right reason it’s essential that the laity make them do it for the only reason they seem to understand - MONEY!

“The laity must live up to the principles of mercy and compassion for the victims, while at the same time demanding more accountability from the bishops” says Serrano.

Clerical abuse; it’s the only crime where the victims are paying for the opportunity to be victimized again!

Open your eyes before it’s too late!


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