Many Bishops Need to Work on Penance and Apologies

Click here to read, “The Fight to Reveal Abuses by Catholic Priests,” by Clyde Haberman, The New York Times, March 30, 2014

Excerpt: The conditional nature of the apology, a style favored by innumerable politicians caught with hands in the till, was not lost on many listeners. Nor was the cardinal’s use of “mistakes” to describe a pattern routinely described by district attorneys as a cover-up. As if that were not enough, the reluctant penitent turned thoroughly unrepentant a decade later. By then retired, he withdrew his apology.

19 thoughts on “Many Bishops Need to Work on Penance and Apologies

  1. Interesting article but Mr haberman lost his way and alot of my attention when he cited the UN committee — that UN report became a joke when they moved into areas that had NOTHING to do with the child abuse. The UN committee violated their own “mission statement” by trying to tell the Church how to change doctrine.

    1. I only agree to the extent that the U.N. committee was inappropriate to enter the domain of doctrine. At the same time, however, I think that doctrine is man-made. To believe that doctrine is purely free of the influences of self-serving and corrupt papal hierarchs over the centuries, and absolute truth based on divine inspiration, is naive. The scandalous history of popes and clerics in the Catholic Church is well documented. Are we to believe that the clerical makers of doctrine miraculously became angels when they made it? Do not be afraid to ask, “How does doctrine hurt us?” While it was inappropriate for the U.N. committee to ask the question, shouldn’t Catholics ask it?

      1. I agree Catholics should ask it, but because the UN included doctrine the impact of their report was diminished. If the UN focused like a laser beam on child sex abuse the prelates would be squirming, as opposed to trying to deflect the report because doctrine was included. The addition of doctrne softened the punch, too bad! .

  2. I would disagree with one additional point in the story. They report that only 25% attend Sunday mass, but they have a funny way of counting. This figure is influenced by the fact that once your name is added it cannot be removed from the membership roll. Many of us have found the leadership morally defective and have joined other faith communities. I have attended weekly services in a local Lutheran congregation for two years, and I have advised the AD of this, yet I still receive regular solicitations to support various AD campaigns as well as other communications. The attendance may be better, because the leadership has made the church much smaller

  3. Looking for “apologies and penance”…………….these two don’t stand a chance when competing with the RCC centuries-old tradition of “mendacity and hubris” with respect to the abuse of our innocent children.

  4. In my life, I have had a rich assortment of experiences, additionally, I have worn many hats. Together, they have led to my penance and apologies competency which, I will admit, is always in a state of “becoming.” In the case of bishops, a number of factors have acted to arrest their competency. Among them are seminary education, the clerical culture, the ontological change Otherness, the hierarchical structure, the vows of obedience, the sheep mentality of the faithful, and so on. These are among the factors that have rendered bishops inept, soul-less, detached, and clueless. Yes, they “need to work on” that. How?

  5. Kate, I thought of you when I was reading this article. To me it is a good example of the clerical culture and clergy still not “getting it”..I don’t know many 75 year old men and women who after working for years and raising a family are rewarded in retirement with a house and pool, paid for by someone else. Also he completely insults an entire zip code/neighborhood of people in the Diocese..the whole piece is amazing and rather than diffuse the situation,he seems to have ignited it.

    1. Kathy, an example of episcopal apologia at its finest. Dutifully written and executed yet ridiculed, vomited upon, ripped to shreds, and rendered altogether “from another planet” by the thinking and decent common-folk commentators.

      Reform the priesthood.

    1. One child at risk or abused is one too many. That is my opinion as an adult, a parent, a Mother.

    2. Mark,
      The problem with this is that most people don’t report their abuse til they are in their 40s or 50s this is slowly changing as people become more educated . So the fact that most of the accused priests are dead or from awhile ago does not surprise me.

      1. The victims have done an excellent job of turning in abusive clergy much to their own personal expense of being attacked by other Catholics…any time numbers are going down we can thank the victims. Can you imagine the rampant abuse going on today in this Archdiocese if not for all who came forward..Many of the removed priests still of the age to be in parishes with children..scary thought..thank you to all who protected our children!

        1. Kathy I agree. Our survivors are making kids safer by coming forward and people are now believing them which is a change in the right direction.

      2. I don’t know about the USA, but in Australia there have been many Catholics holding positions of power prepared to use it to protect the church, thats why it’s taken so long to have this blight on humanity exposed.
        As Opposition Leader, the present prime minister stood up in court and gave a glowing character reference in one appeal case where a conviction had been made and with a Catholic court judge, the appeal was upheld and the clergyman aquitted.
        Now as PM he can call the shots altogther, filling his cabinet and positions where applicable with those who would be a ‘team member’ if or when called for.
        Lord help us if we become a Republic, even with his present ‘Monarchist’ overtures bringing back the Knights and the Dames, for the Knights, only a hop step and a jump to a Papal one.

    3. “In their report, the auditors cite four “major” limitations to the scope of their audits: lack of auditing at the parish level, “inconsistent” methods for collecting statistics across dioceses nationwide; turnover in positions at diocesan offices; and the refusal of the four dioceses and eparchies to participate.

      Regarding the first area, StoneBridge said “most dioceses and all eparchies” did not allow its staff to conduct audits at the parish level.

      “Parishes and schools represent the front lines in any diocese’s or eparchy’s Charter compliance efforts,” StoneBridge wrote in its report. “If a diocese or eparchy does not conduct some form of audit of its parishes and schools … the bishop or eparch cannot be sure that Charter-related policies and procedures are clearly communicated and effectively carried out.””

    4. Maybe a few priests, employees, and another person can stop and talk to Arthur and the others and listen to the pain caused by this crisis still fresh in their hearts during the vigil and put a Christian face to the sexual abuse victims. Not a quick photo opt while lobbying against opening the SOL window in Harrisburg.

      “If that were to be done, it needs to be done in general,” Gainer said. “What I’ve noticed nationally is it seems to be targeted and limited to sexual abuse (by) Catholic priests Everyone knows this is a rampant problem in society in general. It is a problem in schools and yet teaches are exempt. I would be very interested if this were to come to pass that it is a universally applied bill. Does it include everyone who is guilty of sexual abuse in the past and not just targeted to one part of the population.”

      Does the RCC lobby ask for a bill with the above or do they just fight any effort to open the SOL window. Gainer was another of St Charles famous 1970’s decade. Can’t comment about that decade, but the stories I heard moved me to choose the Oblates over St Charles.


    “The Rev. Philip Altavilla left his post as chaplain at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore to serve as administrator at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and St. John the Evangelist parishes in Scranton, effective Sept. 4. Altavilla will continue to serve as Episcopal vicar of the northeast pastoral region, a post he was given by Rigali when the cardinal temporarily took the reins in Scranton upon Bishop Joseph Martino’s resignation last month”



    The author, Nicole Sotelo, is the author of Women Healing From Abuse: Meditations for Finding Peace and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School.

    Sotelo imagines “saints” like Susan and Kathy being canonized one day.

    Imagine that.

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