It is disturbing that the current Milwaukee leader, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said last week that the church underwent an “arc of understanding” across time to come to grips with the scandal — as if the statutory rapes of children were not always a glaring crime in the eyes of society as well as the church itself.
Cardinal Dolan was not a Milwaukee prelate during most of the abuse cases, but he faced a costly aftermath of troubles and warned the Vatican in 2003: “As victims organize and become more public, the potential for true scandal is very real.” The documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests.
The other night a local news report mentioned priests who “had sex with” children, as if that’s a thing that’s possible. Yes, the language of reality is harsh, but so is the actual reality, and say rape when you mean rape. The vast majority of these guys did not believe a 16-year-old who said he or she was 18 (and even then, the power differential …). The vast majority of these guys were into fifth graders. That’s more than “embarrassing.”
Other than that the editorial is very good and clear, and I’m particularly disappointed in Listecki, who should know how ridiculous his line sounds by now. Dolan’s gone off several deep ends since leaving St. Louis, of course, but since moving to New York he’s been at the same time America’s chief sexual scold and the church’s most ardent apologist for this ongoing criminal conspiracy. Once more and for all time, internal church practices are not civil law and the former does not trump the latter. This isn’t an episode of the Borgias. All that’s lacking here is someone willing to try to make the RICO case.