Where Have You Gone, Father Dunn?
We’ve all had them. That wonderful Bing Crosby-esque local parish priest who inspired us to be more than the sum of our physical parts, and to do so by realizing there was an invisible God-like essence deep within us. That is why as the latest of the seemingly never-ending clerical pedophilia scandals emerges I am, to borrow the phrase from Network, “mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
It may be an infinitesimal number of clerics who perpetrated the abuses, but that is quite beside the point. As a traditional Catholic I was raised to believe an abomination against any of God’s creatures is an abomination against us all. Moreover, part of my angst is that the actions of the deviant few have tainted the many well-meaning priests and that deviant few has been aided and abetted by the Church hierarchy. As St. Athanasius pithily noted centuries ago, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” What would Jesus do? He wouldn’t put a criminal on the diocesan skateboard to the next parish down the road so as to hush up the felony. I am less certain what Jesus would do to make expiation for the scandals, but I strongly suspect He would look with disfavor on the Church’s current efforts (or lack thereof). To that end I humbly submit the following.
Robert Mueller is otherwise engaged, but Pope Francis, appoint an ecclesiastical special prosecutor to uncover all facets of this scandal, share them with and cooperate fully with the civil authorities. By the way, the prosecutor should NOT be a cleric. Let the truth out without any risk of institutional bias impacting the prosecutor’s judgment. In addition, endow the prosecutor with full powers to:
. Defrock any clergy found to have abused innocents;
. Immediately reduce in rank any cardinal, archbishop or bishop who participated in the cover up (no matter how high up the Vatican food chain it goes);
. Take appropriate disciplinary action against any clergymen who knew of their comrades’ misdeeds and kept silent;
. Devise just compensation/assistance to victims;
. Fully account for where our Church dollars are going to pay for this;
. As noted above, completely cooperate with civil authorities, no matter the criminal sanctions.
. Develop standards for a thorough review when a man applies to the seminary; there should be a program in place to weed out the psychologically infirm.
Stop the cover up; cleanse the temple. The mission is too important to worry about protecting reputations and positions of authority. Above all, take aggressive action to get this behind us and renew the face of the earth.
WWJD? Unlike the current hierarchy, He would not have put His head in the sand. Indeed, He held it high on the cross. Fr. Dunn (my childhood parish priest) come back. I need to believe in the priesthood again.