23 April 2007

Roundup: Egan, Mormonism, Priest Abuse, Evolution, etc.

The New York Times has a piece on Cardinal Edward Egan of New York. The article appears upon the Cardinal's 75th birthday.

Commonweal has an article about the ethics of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests):
In November of last year, the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, released the names of twenty former priests about whom the diocese found “credible or substantial complaints of sexual abuse of minors.” Most of the twenty are dead. Edward M. Dudzinski, however, was still living-although he had not served as a priest since the 1980s-and resided in Herndon, Virginia.

When local members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) discovered Dudzinski’s location, they went door-to-door in his neighborhood distributing a file of documents with the title “Community Notification: Protect your children from a credibly accused serial sex offender,” which they believed established Dudzinski’s identity as a sex offender. Dudzinski, however, has never been convicted of, or even charged with, a sexual-abuse crime.


SNAP’s public campaign to expose priests who have merely been accused-or sometimes cleared-of abuse has a vigilante air about it. In their eagerness to effect justice as they know it, SNAP may in fact be disrupting the rule of law.


To be sure, the bishops have brought these theatrics of vengeance on themselves. For an institution famous for its rituals and emphasis on repentance, the church has offered precious few rituals of penitence as a way of acknowledging its fault, recognizing the harm it has done, and seeking forgiveness both from God and those it has wronged.


It is not enough to say, however, that bishops, priests, and the church are finally getting what they deserve. The vengeance game is a dangerous one. When the original offense is terrible, we feel empowered to do terrible things in response. Blinded by our righteous rage and convinced of our moral superiority, we may do things we later regret.


It is very hard to criticize the survivors of clergy abuse and their advocates. The survivors were indeed victims, not just of the molesters, but of the bishops and officials who ignored and deceived them, who covered up the problem and enabled further abuse. They have had to struggle bitterly to get any recognition or compensation. But their innocence cannot justify everything that survivors and advocates choose to do.


Who, then, will pay? Not the molesters, not the long-dead or retired bishops and chancery officials who enabled them, and not even the superiors who are still in office. The bill will be paid by closing and selling off older, marginal parishes that can barely support themselves in the inner cities and poor rural areas. It will be paid by closing Catholic schools already stressed by the increasing cost of providing private education, particularly to the poor. As usual, the poor will pay, but they won’t be the only ones.

Rowan Williams' lecture "The Bible: Reading and Hearing" is available online.

Neuhaus and Phillips argue against the impending religious death of Europe in The Much Exaggerated Death of Europe over at First Things.

The National Catholic Register has a piece on Catholicism and Buddhism—specifically the absence of any need to "go East."

PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly has posted a transcript on Mormonism and the possibility of a Mormon president.

The Busybody drops the bomb on the Caesar-rendering issue.

The Tablet straightens out Benedict's relationship with evolution.

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