By DOUG MCINTYRE | Doug@DougMcIntyre.com | Daily News
PUBLISHED: August 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm | UPDATED: August 18, 2018 at 7:06 pm
I am not a recovering Catholic.
I am a Catholic, period. I was born, raised and educated Catholic, K through college. I served as an altar boy for seven years. The focal point of my childhood was my parish school and church. I played baseball and basketball for St. Aloysius CYO. My Boy Scout troop, 103, was sponsored by St. Al’s and met in the school gym. While I make no claims to being a good Catholic, even a practicing Catholic, I have never repudiated my religion or rejected my faith. Yet, the men who run the brick-and-mortar institution known as the Catholic Church have forfeited any due respect from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. We’ve left “a few bad apples” in the dust. It’s obvious the entire orchard is rotten to the core.
I’m not the one who needs to recover; it’s the Catholic Church itself that’s screaming for an intervention.
Last week’s nauseating, infuriating 900-page grand jury expose of 60-plus years of horrific abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests against 1,000 young boys and girls in six Pennsylvania dioceses — with some rape victims as young as 18 months — should silence forever the abuse-deniers and apologists who have done everything in their considerable power to muzzle their victims and sweep what is undoubtedly hundreds of years of systemic criminal abuse under the proverbial rug.
The various popes, cardinals, bishops and priests have had chance after chance to purge their ranks of cassock-clad criminals and their enablers. Rather than act to purify their ranks, the Church hierarchy lawyered up, imported an army of PR hacks to actually attack the victims while issuing carefully worded apologies designed to mollify parishioners and the press while limiting liability for the few cases that actual made their way to court. Any direct compensation to their victims was predicated on the abused signing non-disclosure agreements, a legal vehicle that allows the Church to shuffle serial pedophiles and rapists from parish to parish like journeyman ballplayers bouncing from team to team. It should be obvious to everyone by now the Church is incapable of righting this catastrophic wrong. It’s up to us Catholics — practicing and those sitting on the sidelines — to take back our Church.
I don’t want to hear another apology on behalf of the Church, not even from Pope Francis himself. We’ve had it up to here with apologies and “thoughts and prayers.” There are only two things left we need to hear from the Pope: A.) An order to every priest who is guilty of sex crimes or covering up sex crimes to resign from the priesthood, effective immediately. B.) Pope Francis should set the example by announcing his own resignation, effective immediately.
The beloved Francis, for all his people skills, admitted in May that he was “part of the problem.” In 2015, the pope promoted Rev. Juan Barros to bishop, fully aware Barros had covered up the serial abuse of children by another priest, Fernando Kardaima. When the pope visited Chile last January, he hugged Bishop Barros as a public sign of support and dismissed the allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up as “a slander.”
If you’re part of the problem you can’t be part of the solution.
The infallible pope must order his fallible priests to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” in other words, call the cops on pedophiles and rapists.
Law enforcement itself is not without blame. Far too many district attorneys have looked the other way rather than risk the wrath of Catholic voters on Election Day who might view prosecution of priests as religious persecution. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League and a professional Church apologist, has already dismissed the Pennsylvania report as “lies.” It takes real courage for a local police department to kick in the door to the rectory with a search warrant and escort the priest out to a waiting black and white.
We need courage. All of us. Every Catholic needs to own up to our own complicity. What do we really know about our own parish priests? What do we want to know? Are we still enabling the abuse and cover ups with deliberate blindness? When are we going to fill every collection basket on Sundays with notes, “Not one more penny until you clean house!,” rather than checks?
State legislatures need to immediately revise statue-of-limitation laws and void NDAs that enable predators to continue to abuse. If not now, when?
I am not a victim of sexual abuse. I was never molested despite my years of close contact with priests, including many hours alone while serving mass as an altar boy. I can’t say the same for an old pal from the neighborhood, Tim Lambert.
Tim and his brother, Bobby, were molested by a beloved parish priest, Rev. Joseph Byrns. Father Byrns had ingratiated himself into the Lambert boys’ lives in place of their alcoholic dad; so trusted, he didn’t even knock when entering their home. Byrns proceeded to violate both Lambert boys for years. I played basketball with Tim Lambert in the St. Anastasia gym. I knew nothing. None of us did. Tim never said a word.
That is, until 2004. Timothy Lambert’s story made headlines when Father Timothy Lambert, a Catholic priest himself, exposed Father Joseph Byrns as his childhood abuser.
The world believed Fr. Lambert, but when will the world believe the other Tim Lamberts, and the thousands upon thousands of Lambert brothers and sisters, of the world?
Post-9-11, millions have called upon Muslims to fight the radicals among them who sully the name of their religion with a murderous call for jihad against the West. It’s long past due we similarly ask Catholics to stop shaking their heads over sex crimes against children and shake the Church to its foundation if necessary to exorcize this evil from their — my — faith.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays, 5-10, on AM 790 KABC. He can be reached at: Doug@KABC.com.