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By Geoff Metcalf

June 17, 2002 

So let me get this straight.  The same Catholic Church that gave us the Crusades, the Borgias, the Medicis, and the Inquisition now claims they can’t or won’t implement a zero tolerance for pedophile priests. 

The same Catholic Church that would suppress the Gospel of Thomas  (Reportedly the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.) requires maintaining and nurturing contemptible offenders of less value than excrement. 

According to Tomas, Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed." 

Arguably the largest bureaucracy in the world has swung from historic abuse of power under the color of authority to refusal to use power.  They do so at their own risk. 

In the wake of the recent “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people” (that’s the new plan that U.S. gutless bishops voted to accept) a significant number of priests may not be required to follow the “form” of the tough policy on sexual abuse of minors.  The “substance” is a paper tiger. 

The recent three-day Dallas confab of Catholic bishops compels bishops to act swiftly and demonstratively. 

Admittedly the challenge facing the Catholic Church is more complex than visceral response.  However, as the father of a young boy my sympathy for elderly and aging priests who have successfully “gotten over” and dodged the bullet of both penance and punishment is overshadowed by the victims of their crimes.  Crimes, by the way, that notwithstanding their individual weight are magnified by the abuse of trust.  Pedophile priests use their position of authority, religiosity, and trust to exploit young vulnerable victims.  The subsequent result is lifelong complexities precipitated by the criminals that the victims must live with for a lifetime.  To hell with the pedophile…literally and figuratively. 

The stroke about charity, and forgiveness is misplaced and duplicitous. 

The gaggle of disingenuous bishops called the sexual abuse scandal "a cancer in the Church", and they adopted a policy to permanently bar pedophile priests from the ministry.  So what does THAT mean? 

The ban means offending priests cannot say mass publicly, wear clerical garb or present themselves as priests.   However, the policy stopped short (way short) of automatically defrocking all priests who have ever molested a child.  Big flipping whoop! 

There has been sharp criticism from lay Catholic groups that the policy failed to hold bishops accountable for their role in stoking the crisis.   You damn betcha!  And the chatter hasn’t even really taken hold yet in the parishes. 

Father Thomas Reese, editor of America, a national Catholic weekly magazine said, "This is zero tolerance.”  Bullfeathers!  NOT EVEN! 

Reese said,  “This is what they wanted and this is what they got.”   Hold on Father!  THIS is not what people wanted…and what they wanted is NOT what they got." 

This is not the Middle Ages where cleric infallibility is axiomatic because some old guy in a dress says so. 

This is the very same kind of elitist myopia that engendered ‘The Reformation’ and the epidemic of Protestantism.  

Just before the conference polls where showing 90 percent of U.S. Catholics thought the Church should have a zero tolerance policy for priests who sexually abused a minor. 

One University poll also said that nearly 70 percent of respondents thought a bishop who helped hide a known pedophile priest should be forced to resign.   Only 70%?  In most venues that kind of complicity is called obstruction of justice. 

Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, head of America's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese was pushing hard for a zero tolerance policy.  And the growing conventional wisdom is the bishops should have listened to him. 

Mahoney said a wake-up call for bishops to clean house came when revelations of the apparent cover-up, starting in January with the case of a single priest in Boston, triggered a scandal that has shaken the church to its core. The scandal quickly spread and cost four U.S. bishops and some 250 priests their jobs.  Does “Justice delayed is justice denied” strike a familiar note? 

Mahoney said, "There was a bit of hesitancy on the part of a few bishops on the policy being so strict because they knew they would have to go home and take some tough actions.”  Too bad!  Bishops are supposed to be leaders.  Leaders lead (or they should).  Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.  If the bishops are uncomfortable having to take “tough actions” they probably should be in a position of authority that requires them to do so. 

"We already went through that and it was not pleasant. If we are going to make the church safe for young people, there is no other way," he said. 

One of the big concern for the bishops was how to handle the cases of priests who had sexually abused children decades ago and have since sought repentance for their sins and gone on to lead virtuous lives.  Since statistically the “cure” rate for pedophiles is inimitably small, exceptions could be granted.  However, the regrettable reality is those numbers would be infinitesimal. 

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll recently released revealed 91 percent of American Catholics rejected the idea of giving abusers another chance. “Respondents also said they wanted men to be removed from the priesthood if they were found guilty in one case of abusing a young person.” 

Catholic bishops have become the personification of the Metcalf bromide that “Some people don’t want to be confused with FACTS that contradict their preconceived opinions.” 

An unidentified Vatican honcho was reported to have said, “ ... let’s face it, there are cases in which someone makes an accusation and later retracts it. Are you going to defrock every priest against whom there is even one allegation?”  No, you don’t defrock every priest against whom there is an ALLEGATION.  However, when the crime is PROVEN, you damnbetcha you defrock the s.o.b. 

Scrap the hands, cut off his buttons, break his sword, brand the bastard and march him out the front doors of the church and slam the door shut.

© Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

Geoff is a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers.  A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Metcalf has hosted his radio talk show on the ABC/Disney owned and operated KSFO and in worldwide syndication.