Royal Stench of Arrogance

By Jimmy Breslin
Newsday [Long Island NY]
June 12, 2003

A keen observer on behalf of this space delivers today a report from a swell occasion at Mansion Murphy's dining room at the St. Agnes Cathedral rectory in Rockville Centre.

The big guest appeared to be Cardinal Edward Egan of New York.

The affair was in the dining room with the wine cooler for 40 bottles of the best and a stove on which whole sides of beef could be cooked. The kitchen cost something like $220,000, the money for which came from such collections of the faithful in the parishes of the diocese as the Bishop's Appeal. "Send money to keep Mansion Murphy eating big thick roast beef!"

The affair was on a Saturday and the observer said he could see Egan wiping the sweat from his brow, which is common for him. He then took the handkerchief, or tissue - the observer could just see it was white - and dropped it either in the lap or in front of a Franciscan who was at the table. Egan then said something, which my observer couldn't hear, but which we both agreed was something haughty, which is Egan's only style.

And here again was Egan the other day, announcing that he would not disclose the result of Archdiocese investigations of priests accused of molesting minors. Now Egan says he won't give up the names of priests cleared by him.

He doesn't mention victims. Why should he traffic with these people? He is Egan the Cardinal and they are nothing. Who are they to talk about a priest?

In Phoenix, Bishop Thomas O'Brien admitted that he allowed accused priests to remain having contact with minors. I had a medical problem in Phoenix and the chaplain came in and prayed in the room with us, and as I was not a minor, he went out and got in trouble and is no longer at the hospital.

Bishop O'Brien made a deal with the district attorney that kept him out of jail, but also most of his job. He humiliated himself with a public apology.

In New Hampshire, there is a drive to get rid of Bishop John MacCormack over the sex abuse scandal, about which he did nothing but move priests around and appear to approve of the whole idea of molesting minors. Nobody expects him to remain for long.

The man who named these bishops, Cardinal Bernard Law, is in a small convent someplace in Maryland. He left his job in Boston before people threw him out into the spring mud.

Cardinal Egan does not move. Egan throws his sweaty handkerchief in front of you and the idea of that is for you to pick it up and feel his sweat and know that you are nothing and he is the Cardinal.

He wants to issue no names because then the victims won't know what's going on. There are people molested by a priest who have no idea of what happened. All they know is that they are mystified by much of life and they have a depression from somewhere. It can go on for many years and suddenly, through these investigations of priests in the sex scandals, it comes out. Two bad marriages, alcohol and drugs later, now they tell them. Egan could care less. He only wants to protect the priests, but in reality he only wants to protect himself and his job now and the one he wants next, over in Rome.

His announcement to keep the names out comes at a time when Tom Duane, a state senator from the West Side of Manhattan, is trying to get a bill considered in Albany that would require members of the clergy to report suspected cases of physical and sexual abuse of children. Church institutions would have to go back 50 years, whether the molester is dead or alive. It is the victim who needs to know.

The bill also gives victims of child molestation, who can't bring a suit now because of the statute of limitations, to have a three-year period, from the time this bill is passed, to file lawsuits. "This is to address the fact that many victims of child molestation do not come to terms with their abuse, and the psychological harm it has caused them, until later in life, often times long after the current statute of limitations has expired."

Duane also asks that criminal charges be filed right away or be allowed to be filed eight years within the time the child victim turns 18 or within three years of the date the child discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of 18 was caused by sexual abuse. While victims are groping for what bothers them, a pedophile could escape prosecution and go out into the streets or schools as an unknown.

Egan bitterly opposes this. He rises in his arrogance to worry about himself, and believes deeply in whatever he announces about himself. Charges are not that at all. They are merely allegations. He is not responsible for the priests. He will appear to cover for them, but this only because they could tarnish him. They are individual contractors and therefore the church cannot be blamed for their transgressions and, above all, I, Egan, Cardinal of New York, neither work with, nor have the least friendship with, a common priest. I have paid great sums because of their crimes. But this was only to save my job. And I do not want to know any victim of any priest. That is all I have to say to you. Here, hold my handkerchief. Feel the sweat.


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