Judging the Catholic Crisis

Albany Times Union [Albany NY]
Downloaded March 16, 2003

It was wise of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi to recuse himself from cases involving sexual abuse and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

Plaintiffs' lawyer John Aretakis had requested Teresi's removal from the cases, citing purportedly improper communications between him and the diocese. Teresi had also imposed restrictions on what lawyers could say publicly, which was aimed mainly at Aretakis and at inhibiting media coverage. Given the media's role nationwide in bringing the sex abuse scandals to light, it was ill-advised for Teresi to try to stifle coverage.

Aretakis also questioned whether Teresi, as a practicing Catholic, could be impartial. That's not a productive path to go down, amounting to almost a religious test for judges. There is no reason why a Catholic judge cannot rule in cases concerning the Catholic Church.

In fact, the church's real interests are served not by concealment but by bringing offenses and scandal to light, so they can be dealt with. Bishop Howard Hubbard acknowledged as much in a recent interview with The Evangelist, in which he credited "the vigilance and persistence of the press" in doing just that.

In that light, and in the context of the terrible crimes against children that were committed and covered up by church officials, the diocese's demand that the Times Union apologize because one of its reporters purportedly misrepresented himself just looks silly. There are much more serious matters that need to be addressed, and the diocese still needs to do more to be as open and transparent as possible

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