Posts Tagged “DCF”

Archdiocese of Hartford / Parishes / St. Philip ChurchNote: See below for a couple updates on this story.

A couple years ago, America’s Catholic bishops commissioned a report on child sexual abuse among its clergy, which concluded that it was a “historical problem” (in other words, something that had happened “historically,” but had stopped occurring). Unfortunately for the bishops and their sycophants who wrote this report, the reality is that child abuse by R.C. clergy is anything but “historical.” Here in Connecticut, just within the archdiocese of Hartford, it’s been an issue a few times within those past two years.

As one would expect — given that this is the archdiocese that dared use the “but the victims enjoyed it” defense in court during a lawsuit — the Hartford Courant reports on yet another example of this “historical problem” that won’t seem to go away (WebCite cached article):

An East Windsor priest has been placed on leave by the Catholic Church after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Hartford Archdiocese said Monday.

The Rev. Paul Gotta had earlier come to public attention in June when he told police about an 18-year-old who had told him he was planning a memorable prank for his graduation ceremonies. Police later charged the teenager with attempting to make a bomb, possession of explosives and other charges.

The state Department of Children and Families has received a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor involving Gotta, who is administrator of St. Philip and St. Catherine churches in East Windsor, said Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Police are investigating the allegation, she said in a written statement.

Note, this revelation didn’t reach police attention because of anything the archdiocese did. It appears — somehow — to have been a side-effect of Gotta having reported a teen’s threat of violence against his school. The Courant article itself is strange reading, since it doesn’t connect the child-abuse allegation with the bomb threat. The article, as written, is basically a single report of two different incidents. A pretty substantial amount of information is completely missing from the story. Given the decline of journalism, this isn’t really surprising … sorry to say.

At any rate, the bishops’ contention that child abuse by its clergy is merely “historical,” is a lie. And they know it.

Update 1: Things just got a whole helluva lot worse for the Rev. Gotta. The Courant reports he was just arrested on federal charges (cached). The ATF and East Windsor police accuse him of helping a juvenile get firearms. It also seems the Reverend may have helped him make a gun:

The warrant also states that Bass said he and Gotta had discussed making a shotgun, which he tested in the backyard in the presence of the priest.

This is one seriously bad situation for a priest — of all people! — to have gotten himself into.

Update 2: Back in November most of the charges against Rev Gotta were dismissed, and he pled guilty only to a minor count (cached). Yes, this latest news is 2+ months old, but I only just became aware of it.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Hartford.

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My home state of Connecticut is an odd place. It’s a “blue state” which — despite having a Republican governor — is run by Democrats in the legislature and its state employee unions. As a whole it votes liberal and Democratic reliably and consistently. It’s only the third state to permit gay marriage — by virtue of the Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health. Compared with the rest of the country, Nutmeggers are extremely liberal.

But in a few ways it’s still a very parochial state. It still has blue laws, for example. Connecticut also has three very powerful and influential Roman Catholic dioceses (those of Bridgeport and Norwich, and the archdiocese of Hartford) which have, over the last year and a half, become extremely “activist” along Religious-Right lines, as I’ve blogged already. (Even though nationally the Religious Right tends to be Protestant, not Catholic.)

The reason for their political activism is not immediately clear … however, I suspect it’s a push-back effort … the dioceses in Connecticut have suffered from bad press for several years as a result of pedophile priests (such as Fr Stephen Foley, who — when he was sued by one of his victims — the archdiocese of Hartford tried to keep from being deposed in civil court (WebCite cached article). By ramming Religious Right-type causes down Nutmeggers’ throats and trying to make themselves into “kingmakers,” the bishops are playing on Connecticut’s underlying stream of parochiality, hoping to have at least one success that gets people to forget their complicity in previous scandals.

The Kerrigan case … and the presence of gays and gay causes in general … has provided no small amount of fodder for Catholic activism in Connecticut. The most recent example of this campaign is an odd but remarkably ardent campaign to prevent DCF — Connecticut’s child-care agency — to help gays (as reported by WTIC-AM radio in Hartford):

The state Department of Children and Families takes down part of its web site describing a program to train care givers on the needs of homosexual young people.

A conservative political group, and a Christian legal group had threatened to sue over the web pages for the Safe Harbor Project.

American Center for Law and Justice lawyer Vincent McCarthy said his organization sent a letter to the department, “demanding that the state of Connecticut DCF discontinue its endorsement of an alternative religious point of view that endorses the homosexual lifestyle.”

The web pages that were taken down included links to gay-accepting churches in Connecticut, including some in the United Church of Christ, and the Unitarian-Universalist Church

How dare the state of Connecticut offer gays a resource for acceptance!? Why, it cannot be tolerated!

Now … this story does not mention the Catholic Church or the state’s Catholic bishops as being part of this. And they may not be. However, there is a connection, which is referred to later in the article:

Family Institute of Connecticut director Peter Wolfgang said “This was the state stepping in to reeducate our children.

“This is the next big fight, and we will step in to fight it wherever we can, but this was such an obvious open and shut case because it had to do with the state taking a position on religion in clear violation of the first amendment,” Wolfgang said.

Peter Wolfgang is a prominent Connecticut Catholic, and his Family Institute dutifully aligns itself with the state’s Catholic bishops on all of their various crusades.* So it’s not unlikely that they played some part in this effort, even though it’s not overtly stated here.

At any rate, there appears to be no good reason for these religionazis to prevent the state from offering gays a positive resource they can rely on … except as part of their generalized homophobia and desire to repress gays in all ways and make them into second-class citizens. Way to go, guys. Keep up the gay-bashing. You continue to look like the intellectual Neanderthals you’ve shown yourselves to be for nearly 2,000 years.

* My choice of the word “crusade” here is deliberate and not metaphorical. The Catholic bishops in Connecticut are assuredly at war with gays. If they possessed the ability to raise armies against them — as some Popes such as Urban II and several Church councils sent armies to go to war with “the infidel” during the Middle Ages — I have no doubt they would be doing so, right now. That their “crusade” is one of propaganda, lawsuits and politicking, rather than a martial expedition, is just a reflection of modern reality … and a reminder as to why “separation of church and state” is so very important.

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