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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

 
Moral Arbiters

by digby

How timely:
Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan is facing criticism from representatives of clergy sexual abuse victims for a recent interview in which he said he regretted apologizing for the priest abuse scandal in 2002 when he was bishop of Bridgeport.
In the interview with Connecticut Magazine, Egan said “I don’t think we did anything wrong” in handling abuse cases. He said he was not obligated to report abuse claims and maintained he inherited the cases from his predecessor and did not have any cases on his watch, according to the magazine.

Clergy in Connecticut have been required to report abuse claims to authorities since the early 1970s, according to attorneys who represented numerous abuse victims.

“Egan never did so and his failure to do so constitutes a violation of the law,” said the attorneys, Jason Tremont, Cindy Robinson and Douglas Mahoney.
Not according to him. But what's most astonishing is that he feels he acted morally as well:
In court documents unsealed in 2009, Egan expressed skepticism over sexual abuse allegations and said he found it “marvelous” that so few priests had been accused over the years ...
Egan said in the interview that he sent accused priests to treatment.
“And as a result, not one of them did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.”

“I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled,” Egan said.
[...]
The attorneys said their clients included victims who were abused by priests while Egan was Bridgeport bishop. In 1989 and 1993, abuse victims complained to the diocese but no action was taken, they said.

Egan also welcomed a priest back into the diocese in 1990 who had been accused of biting a young male’s penis decades earlier, according to the attorneys.

Egan transferred priests subject to complaints and allowed priests with complaints against them to continue to practice, the attorneys said.
I think that speaks for itself. This religious hierarchy that presumes to speak for millions and believes it has veto power over any law it deems to be violate its "conscience" obviously has a broader application than just birth control.

Meanwhile, Very Important Social Conservatives believe that vacuous semantics are all it will take to solve the current impasse. Here's David Brooks arguing with Gail Collins in today's NY Times (and not faring very well, in my opinion.)

David: There are perfectly good compromises so that the people who work in the Catholic institutions can get contraception, sterilizations, morning-after pills and the like. The Catholic institution can provide information on where those products can be obtained without having to provide them directly. This is the kind of compromise that offends people who want to apply regulations uniformly regardless of context, but it’s the sort of messy compromise with reality that all of us make every day.
Why would this be? If a person has serious moral objections to providing birth control, how is it they will be willing to sign on to a faux "compromise" in which they wink and nod toward the person who will provide it. Who's being fooled by such behavior? Surely not God.

Of course, they seem to have believed this about the immorality of child molestation, so it should be easy to find a moral rationalization for skirting the proscriptions against birth control. In fact, morality in the Catholic Church hierarchy seems to be extremely malleable. As long as one pretends to be pious, it doesn't really matter what one actually does. (Unfortunately, it's not too hard to believe they'll be a bit more rigid on the question of women's reproduction while reserving their flexibility for matters of male priesthood transgressions.)

It's not my religion, so people can regard these hypocrites and liars' opinions on moral issues however they want to. But I'm damned if I can understand why I should care -- or why even one woman is denied equality at the hands of charlatans like Cardinal Egan.

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