Talking back to the headlines
“Priest Convicted”: What if your kid was violated by a man of the cloth — a priest or rabbi or imam? I don’t know about you, but if it happened to my kid, my anger would be uncontrollable. With that said, there is another side. These people are very sick. The fact that so many priests are being convicted or accused is very troubling.
If I were calling the shots in Rome, I don’t know how I would get around this. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to pay out claims to victims of abuse. Whole lives have been ruined because these corrupted people were unable to control themselves.
They certainly knew that what they were doing was wrong. They certainly knew about their vows. They certainly knew what was prohibited by the law of both the church and the state. Willie Sutton said that he robbed banks because, “That’s where the money is.” The children were in the church.
Apparently, one of the church’s greatest concerns is the difficulty in recruiting priests. I would hope that those in charge of recruiting young clergy offer a battery of tests designed to ferret out those who harbor a predisposition to sexual abuse. If there is a single thing that the church should have learned by now, it is that the institution cannot turn a blind eye toward those that have committed these heinous acts.
There is a good deal of evidence that such behavior was standard operating procedure for far too long. The idea was that brother clergy could understand the concept of mental illness but that doesn’t help get around what happened to the children. We now have testimony that some clergy blew the whistle about some of the worst violators and the Vatican ignored the pleas for help.
This is all made much, much worse by the fact that we look to our religious institutions to be models of ethical behavior. This is as bad as it gets.
This is not the case of consenting adults straying — this is a crime against our children.
“Seth Tweets”: I’ve known Seth Rogovoy for a long time. By way of disclosure, he asked me to be on the advisory board of his magazine, Berkshire Living. As far as I know, that board has never met, but disclosure is the best antiseptic.
Along the same lines, Seth frequently appears on WAMC (Midday Magazine on Fridays) where he shares his opinions and recommendations about cultural and arts events. He has a successful blog in which he usually aggregates the work of other people like the reporters on The Berkshire Eagle. He works very hard and has accomplished a lot.
Nevertheless, he really messed up when he was kicked off a jury for tweeting. He says that he didn’t do it from the jury room and that it wasn’t about the case, but just about jury service in general. Naturally, those of us who have done our duty and who scrupulously followed the instructions to the jury have reacted to Seth’s antics in dismay.
Judging by the numbers of angry letters that have shown up in The Eagle’s letters columns, others who have done their jury time are equally upset. A Williams College education is excellent preparation for scoring clever points in a debate but there are times just to shut up. A wise man said, “All that is necessary is to say, ‘I screwed up and it won’t happen again.'” That’s all he had to do.
Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 2/19/11