Posts Tagged “michael cote”

St Patrick Cathedral, Norwich CT / K Ripley, via PanoramioFor years now I’ve blogged about the worldwide Catholic clerical abuse scandal. I’ve also said numerous times that Catholic bishops bear a large part of the responsibility for it, since in many cases, they were the ones who got the abuse reports and then moved the priests around in order to protect them. Despite this, there were, it turns out, cases of abuse so egregious that even bishops admitted there was a severe problem and begged the Vatican to act … yet no action was taken. I’ve blogged about such cases from California, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Well, as the Hartford Courant reports, it turns out something similar happened right here in Connecticut too (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican’s refusal to let the Norwich diocese remove an accused pedophile from the priesthood is expected to play a role in the upcoming trial involving a New London woman who says the priest molested her when she was 12.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger received the Norwich request days before being elected pope in 2005. It’s unclear, though, if Ratzinger himself decided against laicizing Father Thomas Shea, who was accused of molesting as many as 15 girls at 11 different parishes throughout the Diocese of Norwich in a career that started in 1953.

Although the request to defrock Shea was very late in coming, it appears Norwich bishop Michael Cote was horrified over what Shea had done:

In an April 8, 2005, letter to Ratzinger, Cote wrote that the “trail of destruction caused by Thomas W. Shea is staggering.” He wrote there were at least 15 credible cases of abuse by Shea of girls under the age of 18, including one girl who tried to kill herself three times before she turned 23.

“The psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage wrought by this man is immeasurable,” Cote wrote. “The people who have been directly affected by his behavior as well as the entire People of God would welcome his involuntary dismissal from the clerical state.”

But the Vatican office — at the time of the letter, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who would later become Pope Benedict XVI — decided to take no action:

On May 12, 2005, less than a month after Ratzinger became pope, the Vatican responded to Cote, denying his request to remove Shea. The letter indicates that the status quo — Shea in retirement with the restrictions not to wear a collar or say Mass — was sufficient.

Once again the Vatican displays its moral bankruptcy for all to see.

Update: Diocesan attorneys have asked the court to delay the trial in question, because of the Penn State abuse scandal (cached). That’s right, folks … the diocese is saying that, because some other institution just got nailed for doing the sort of thing the R.C. Church has been doing, everything has to be put on hold for several months while the hubbub dies down. That, my friends, is just too fucking precious!

Photo credit: Panoramio.

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St. Francis Hospital, 114 Woodland Street in Hartford, ConnecticutHere in Connecticut, legislators are mulling over a proposed bill that would extend the statute of limitations on child-abuse lawsuits. The archdiocese of Hartford, however, interprets this as a direct attack upon them, and they’re fighting back. The Hartford Courant reports on an attempt by Connecticut’s three Roman Catholic hierarchs to get the laity to lobby the legislature on their behalf (WebCite cached article):

A proposal to extend the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases could have a “devastating financial effect” on the state’s Catholic dioceses, Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell wrote to pastors this week, urging them to include a letter opposing the bill in parish bulletins this weekend.

The letter says the bill, now pending in the legislature, would put “all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk,” and warns that it could lead to bankruptcy, threaten the assets of parishes even without a history of abuse, and “would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut.”

“The bottom line is that this is terrible public policy, discriminatory by its nature, and a huge threat to us all,” says the letter, signed by Mansell, Bishop William E. Lori of the Bridgeport diocese, and Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich.

The bishops are especially concerned because House bill 5473 — if enacted — would open the door to lawsuits based on the notorious, late Dr George Reardon, who had practiced at the archdiocese-owned St Francis Hospital in Hartford. Although Dr Reardon is long dead, a few years ago a cache of child pornography had been found in a West Hartford home he’d lived in (cached article); the slides and movies had been of children he’d seen in the course of his practice at the hospital, mostly taken on hospital premises. The cache was enormous … 50,000 slides and 100 movies … and Reardon had taken them over the course of a few decades. What makes the hospital — and the archdiocese that runs it — vulnerable to lawsuits is not just that these had been filmed there and during the course of Reardon’s practice, but that they had been put on notice about Reardon’s activities long ago: The Hartford Courant published a comprehensive story of one family’s attempt to get justice done where Reardon was concerned, and that happened in 1970 (cached article). The Hartford County Medical Association also demonstrably knew about Reardon’s predilections, as early as 1970 (see this Courant blog entry, with cached version). But Dr Reardon was not disciplined — either by the hospital or by state authorities — until 1995 … 25 years later! St Francis and the archdiocese clearly bear the burden of having allowed Reardon to prey on his child-patients for those 25 years at the very least (maybe more, if he’d been reported to them prior to 1970).

At any rate, the bishops’ appeal letter reveals their true concern in this case: Money. They are not interested in being held accountable for what they have done, they are not interested in admitting fault, they are not interested in anything, except holding onto as much of their money and assets as they can. Of course, this means they aren’t paying attention to Jesus’ own teachings; Jesus ordered his followers not to be concerned with wealth or possessions, e.g. in the following:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26a)

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20b)

And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24-25)

Connecticut’s Catholic bishops, then, are being un-Christian by worrying about money and assets. If they were true Christians they would be willing to give it up — all of it — if needed, and not whine and cry about it.

In any event, this law would not apply only to the Reardon case, but broadly to other similar cases of child abuse, too. So it is not “targeted” solely at the archdiocese of Hartford. The bishops are dishonest when they claim the law “targets” them … because it doesn’t.

Hat tip: Creedible blog.

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