Last week I pointed out that Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, is not a journalist per se and as a layman has no particular unction to ferret out the misdeeds of the Catholic clergy. By the same token, though, he has no particular expertise to besmirch the work done by the State of Pennsylvania in putting out the report to which I linked yesterday. But that is what Donohue seems to be doing in this post on the League site. Fortunately it's not a long piece so it won't be too much trouble to dissect and rebut.
First, let's look at the title: "PA Grand Jury Report Based On Accusations". So what? Of course it is! That is the nature and purpose of grand juries: to decide if the available evidence constitutes cause for criminal indictment. It usually is the body that actually brings the indictment to court. Donohue states that plain fact in such a way to cast doubt on the grand jury's integrity. It is true that this report shines the light on misdeeds of clergy now deceased or now out of reach because of the statute of limitations. However, some instances are somewhat recent and can be brought to trial. It also shines the light on prelates who willfully concealed the crimes of their underlings and might make some ripe for prosecution.
"When the dust settles, what counts are the facts". Has he looked at the report? There are multiple testimonies regarding the same clerics. There are photocopies of letters and other documentation. There are money trails. Bring on the facts!
"Many of those named are not priests: the list includes lay persons, deacons, and seminarians". He forgot to add "bishops". The point is that all accused were operating in church-related scenarios, under the authority of the hierarchy when they committed their crimes. But let's look again at Donohue's curious omission of the word "bishops" in that sentence. One key feature of this grand jury report is that it details the nefarious roles played by prelates either in the commission of the crimes themselves and/or by concealment of the crimes of their underlings and refusal to bring dangerous underlings to heel.
"Even among the living, most have not had opportunity to rebut the accusations". Excuse me, but what's to stop them from doing so now? Let them do so - if they can.
"In most cases there has been no attempt by the dioceses or the grand jury to verify the accusations. This is what happens when an investigation extends back to World War II." Again, the purpose of a grand jury is to bring forth accusations, not conduct the actual trial. As far as the dioceses goes, many have been doing everything in their power to stymie any real investigation; they are interested only in silencing the victims and "damage control". The latest evidence of that can be seen in my post from yesterday. As far as the "world war 2" quip goes, that is necessary because there was no investigation of the crimes that occurred back then.
Then there's this: "Those awaiting a grand jury report on the sexual abuse of minors in the public schools, or among the clergy of other religions, shouldn’t hold their breath. It will never happen." Talk about an irrelevant straw man! As far as the crimes go that have been committed by clergy - including bishops, what happens outside the church is irrelevant. At least these public school teachers and protestants aren't committing sacrilege against the Sacrament of Holy Orders and vows of celibacy.
Then in this tome Donohue says that the "bishops strike the right tone". We're not concerned about "tone". We're concerned about truth. Any bishop who concealed any pervert clergy - even if that pervert is a fellow bishop - should resign.