Up until the last few years, the worst story I ever heard about a priest concerned a man who was pretty good guy but was an alcoholic.
One particular time he got into the sauce, things got out of hand, time got warped and twisted and he was discovered drunkenly sprawled on the steps of his church wearing shorts, a sport shirt and eating a hot dog.
Bad enough. But even worse, it was Good Friday.
I thought -- and still do -- that the scene was hilarious.
That was about as bad as it could possibly be I thought, until a couple of years ago when we found out that the church was chockablock full of homosexual child rapists.
That is not hilarious. That is maddening.
One of the most notorious of these characters is up in Massachusetts, in jail, waiting to go to trial.
His name is Paul Shanley and he performed the ceremony when my sister Dianne married Bill Herrick. About two years later, he was a concelebrant when my brother Paul celebrated his first public mass. That was a long time ago.
We didn't know about Shanley back then; that he was systematically ruining the lives of kids in St. Patrick's parish, one of them the son of the man who was our family doctor.
That all came out later. Also, the fact that one of his fellow curates at St. Patrick's was also a homosexual molester and wound up establishing a motel for priests of his persuasion who could get together and do their thing.
Enough to make you puke, isn't it?
Bernard Law, a cardinal who was the archcriminal of Boston, covered up for the criminal priests in his archdiocese, moving them around allowing them to operate freely, knowing full well about their appalling activities.
He got kicked out of Boston, but now he is the toast of the Vatican, installed in a high prestige job. Apparently the Pope is as far gone mentally as he appears to be physically.
The criminality was widespread, all over the country. Where there was not actual messing with kids, there was other strange behavior. Right here in Pinellas County, for example.
When the bishop of this diocese was accused of something highly inappropriate he wound up making a $100,000 payoff. If he did nothing wrong, why would he pay? That makes only one kind of sense.
And where did he get the money? Whose money was it?
In Boston, the archdiocese these days is selling about 300 church properties so that they can pay off litigants who have brought civil actions against priests.
By what right is that done? Under the legal rubric of "corporation sole," Catholic Church property belongs to the local bishop or archbishop.
Those jokers in the church have got to change that. Church properties belong to the people because they are the ones who pay for it. Financing in the Catholic Church never comes from the top down; it comes from the parishioners up. You want a new church, the folks have to come up with the moolah.
So in Boston, folks ought to be in court enjoining those sales and seeing that the money goes to those who initially supplied it.
This is doable. Every church can be held under a trusteeship (the bishop can be an ex officio trustee) and then the value of the property reposes where it belongs.
It's a matter of ex debito justitia.
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