Clergy abuse: When silence was golden

Sun-Times editorializes on Chicago archdiocese’s abuse-coverup problem.

Before the Archdiocese of Chicago ushered in an era of heightened transparency, Raymond Goedert, a top church official, followed the indefensible practice for dealing with priests who allegedly molested children.

He talked to church lawyers instead of calling the cops.

Standard practice. Clericalism at work there. Closed-shop mentality. Tamp it down, tamp it down. Do not besmirch the institution. Lawyer up.

The last was to defend the coffers whereby, as I heard a Chicago priest tell his (black) congregation in the ’60s, “It takes money to save souls.” Bald, atypical description of good works sponsored far and wide, we presume, not quite of how souls are saved.

As to where Bishop Goedert lives, well where do bishops live who did likewise over the years? One got kicked upstairs to a Vatican job and was buried last December with a protocol-directed solemn-high funeral mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at which Pope Francis did his duty with a blessing over the casket. The cardinals had come to bury him, not to praise him, a spokesman explained.

As to Bishop Goedert’s being praised by fellow priests, it’s because he has been a much appreciated leader among them, a straight talker, stand-up guy, who did what was standard, what was expected of him — which is the problem, of course, as the Sun-Times says.

I recall another priest who in the 2000’s from another pulpit remarked, almost in passing, that hard times were coming for priests, or words to that effect, referring to expected backlash because of widespread reporting of abuse. Legitimate concern, but beside the point at that time, even parochial.

A decade later from yet another pulpit, an out-of-town Jesuit preached up a storm in a parish mission in which along the way he bewailed the role of the press in besmirching the church with its sex-abuse stories. A good man, missing the point.

Now that’s clericalism.

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