Boy­cott bish­ops’ ap­peal un­til Catholic wrong­do­ers are held to ac­count

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group Ham­burg Ton­awanda

WASH­ING­TON – On Ash Wed­nes­day, the holy sea­son of Lent be­gan – and so did the an­nual fundrais­ing drives by many of the na­tion’s Catholic bish­ops known as the bish­ops’ Len­ten ap­peals.

My ad­vice to my fel­low Catholics? Don’t give them a dime.

Last fall, the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops was sup­posed to vote on a res­o­lu­tion to cre­ate a spe­cial com­mis­sion, in­clud­ing six lay mem­bers, to in­ves­ti­gate bish­ops who cover up sex­ual abuse. At the last minute, Pope Fran­cis barred the bish­ops from hold­ing the vote. But it’s not clear the res­o­lu­tion would have passed. Af­ter all, the bish­ops did vote on a non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion that de­clared, “Be it re­solved that the bish­ops of the USCCB en­cour­age the Holy Fa­ther to re­lease all the doc­u­men­ta­tion that can be re­leased con­sis­tent with canon and civil law re­gard­ing the mis­con­duct of Arch­bishop [Theodore] McCar­rick.” As they de­bated the word­ing, the Na­tional Catholic Reg­is­ter re­ports, “they could not even agree on the in­clu­sion of the word ‘soon.’”

Even the wa­tered-down res­o­lu­tion was re­jected 137 to 83, with three bish­ops ab­stain­ing. Want to know how your bishop voted? You can’t. When I asked the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops for the roll call vote, a spokesman replied, “Sorry, the votes are anony­mous so we don’t know who voted for what.” That’s their idea of trans­parency.

The sit­u­a­tion in Rome is no bet­ter. This year, Fran­cis re­port­edly in­formed Bos­ton Car­di­nal Sean O’Mal­ley that he would not au­tho­rize a fullfledged in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the McCar­rick coverup. In 2015, O’Mal­ley and a spe­cial Vat­i­can ad­vi­sory group Fran­cis ap­pointed him to lead made a sim­ple rec­om­men­da­tion: If any Vat­i­can of­fice re­ceives a let­ter from an abuse sur­vivor, it must ac­knowl­edge the let­ter. The pope ap­proved the rec­om­men­da­tion, but Car­di­nal Ger­hard Muller, pre­fect of the Vat­i­can’s Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith, has re­fused to com­ply – with no con­se­quences from the pope.

The pope also agreed in 2015 to cre­ate a new tri­bunal, in­clud­ing lay­men, to judge bish­ops who ig­nore or cover up sex­ual abuse. But a year later, he changed his mind. Af­ter an “in­tense di­a­logue,” Muller said, “it was con­cluded that to con­front pos­si­ble crim­i­nal neg­li­gence by bish­ops we al­ready had the com­pe­tence of the Con­gre­ga­tion for Bish­ops.” Trans­la­tion: The bish­ops can po­lice them­selves.

No, they can’t. How is it that, 17 years af­ter the abuse scan­dal first broke, we are still learn­ing new in­for­ma­tion from grand ju­ries and whistle­blow­ers about the scan­dalous con­duct of the bish­ops? Un­til ev­ery cor­rupt bishop who ig­nored or ac­tively cov­ered up abuse is ex­posed and re­moved, the laity should shun the bish­ops’ Len­ten ap­peals. When your pas­tor hands you an en­ve­lope, hand it back empty – or bet­ter yet, send your bishop a let­ter ex­plain­ing that he will get no fi­nan­cial sup­port un­til the con­spir­acy of si­lence is ended and cor­rupt bish­ops are held to ac­count.

I of­fer this ad­vice with a heavy heart, be­cause I am, and will al­ways re­main, a faith­ful Catholic. I will never leave the church for one sim­ple rea­son: I will not let Ju­das sep­a­rate me from Je­sus. But let’s be clear: There are Ju­dases in the ranks of to­day’s suc­ces­sors of the apos­tles. They cov­ered up or ig­nored sex­ual mis­con­duct and moved around preda­tor priests – and con­tinue to do so. They made se­cret pay­outs to vic­tims while re­quir­ing them to sign con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments. They were told about McCar­rick’s se­rial abuses and did noth­ing – in many cases be­cause McCar­rick helped them rise to the pow­er­ful po­si­tions they now hold.

The church is not a democ­racy, nor should it be. It ex­ists to spread the views of its founder, not its fol­low­ers. But that does not mean that the laity must tol­er­ate the bish­ops who have over­looked, ig­nored or cov­ered up abuse. We must de­mand ev­ery bishop who did so be held to ac­count and re­moved from of­fice. Clearly the out­cry of the vic­tims is not enough. The only way we can get ac­count­abil­ity is by vot­ing with our pock­et­books.

Some may ob­ject that the bish­ops’ Len­ten ap­peals fund many good causes. There’s a sim­ple so­lu­tion: by­pass the bish­ops and give di­rectly to the many won­der­ful Catholic char­i­ties that help the poor and vul­ner­a­ble. At the Na­tional Catholic Reg­is­ter, Sim­cha Fisher has a list of nearly two dozen wor­thy Catholic char­i­ta­ble groups ded­i­cated to aid­ing the des­ti­tute, the dis­abled, the aged, the per­se­cuted, the wid­owed, the un­wanted and the un­born. Give them what you would nor­mally give to the bish­ops. Give more. But un­til church lead­ers cleanse them­selves of the stench of cor­rup­tion, boy­cott the bish­ops.

Marc Thiessen Keep colum­nist if it means the news­pa­per lives on, longer

Of course, The Buf­falo News should con­tinue pub­lish­ing work by right wing columnists such as Marc Thiessen. This news­pa­per, and pa­pers in gen­eral, are hang­ing by a thread. Peo­ple don’t read news­pa­pers any­more!

Buf­falo is filled with peo­ple with right wing views. Take away their columnists and you will un­nec­es­sar­ily shrink your read­er­ship for no good rea­son. The pa­per is for ev­ery­body. I love my pa­per and can’t bear to think of the day when it won’t ap­pear in front of my door. I would ac­cept a Thiessen on ev­ery page if it length­ened the life of my News!

Coleen Hanna

Mea­ger Med­i­caid rates put nurs­ing homes un­der stress

I rep­re­sent Lead­ingAge New York, a statewide as­so­ci­a­tion of non­profit and pub­licly spon­sored se­nior care providers, in­clud­ing 34 lo­cated through­out West­ern New York.

The Buf­falo News se­ries, In­side WNY’s Nurs­ing Homes, pointed to a num­ber of is­sues that are very real as our pop­u­la­tion ages – a grow­ing trend of out-of-town nurs­ing home own­er­ship and the fact that some New York­ers fail to ad­e­quately pre­pare for their long-term care needs; while oth­ers’ re­sources are stretched to their lim­its, leav­ing them to rely upon state and fed­eral sup­port to pay for their long-term care.

One of the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing

Let’s fi­nally put an end to health care for profit

There’s been much talk about so­cial­ism in con­nec­tion with health care. Tak­ing the profit out of medicine in this coun­try is seen as a full-fledged as­sault on cap­i­tal­ism. Op­po­nents treat so­cial­ized medicine like a dis­ease that would in­fect our en­tire mar­ket econ­omy. No wor­ries there. The United States will never be­come a so­cial­is­tic na­tion. Too long has cap­i­tal­ism reigned.

There is much ev­i­dence that in­di­cates the rich are get­ting richer while the poor are get­ting poorer. Cor­po­ra­tions push and shove their way through reg­u­la­tions to max­i­mize prof­its at the ex­pense of pol­lut­ing land, air and wa­ter. And it isn’t just cor­po­ra­tions, it’s ab­sen­tee land­lords and devel­op­ers who re­ceive huge tax in­cen­tives from gov­ern­ment. They build lux­ury apart­ments and drive out mid­dle- and lower-in­come in­hab­i­tants.

Let us be clear here. Cap­i­tal­ism with­out re­spon­si­ble reg­u­la­tion rav­ages the poor, the work­ing class and de­stroys the en­vi­ron­ment. La­bor unions, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, and now newly elected Congress mem­bers like Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez are be­ing de­mo­nized by con­ser­va­tives. An army of lob­by­ists have been launched and paid for by health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to pres­sure politi­cians and feed false in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic re­gard­ing the detri­ments of a health sys­tem built to serve ev­ery­one on equal foot­ing. Health care for profit must end.

Pa­tri­cia Meyer Lee

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