A week or so ago I heard my first news report of the $660,000,000 settlement the LA Diocese agreed to as payment to hundreds of adults who had been molested by priests as children. The reason for settling, I assume, was so the Church could protect itself and, specifically, Cardinal Mahoney (sp?–I really don’t give an f-word whether I spell his name right or not) from having to go through the embarrassment of appearing in court. Apparently Mahoney and/or his underlings moved priests around for years without so much as alerting new parishes that there might be some kind of issue here.
I should admit right up front that I wasn’t listening with my usual acuity to stories that catch my interest like this one. I was too busy shouting at the radio, over and over, the only question that really seems terribly important here, “Why isn’t someone in Jail?” “Why isn’t someone in Jail?” “Why isn’t someone in Jail?”
Perhaps an even better question is, “Why wasn’t that being asked by the press?” Why wasn’t it the only question asked?
The story had almost no legs. I heard it reported again on the two following days. I’ve not heard a word since; not even any report about the blogosphere going on about it. Not being much of a follower of blogs, I don’t know whether it is or not. This long, though, and I’d say it’s probably a dead story. It’s certainly gone from the mainline media’s radar screen.
I heard a passing response from the LA district attorney saying they would look into it. But with the track record law enforcement has on this issue, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. But it just won’t leave me alone. Why isn’t someone in jail?
It’s not as if child molestation isn’t a crime. It is.
It’s surely not that the covering up of the allegations, now confirmed as true by admission, isn’t against the law, both as accessory after the fact the first time, and before the fact on any subsequent molestations. It is.
It’s not as if laws don’t exist to hold organizations and their leaders responsible for criminal conspiracies. Which this is/was/and will, apparently, continue to be. There are. Specifically the RICO Act.
It’s not as if this were a civil matter. Child molestation isn’t something you can make right by throwing any number of millions at it.
It’s not as if this is a religious freedom question. Christ loved children more, even, than he loved adults. (Blasphemer! Blasphemer!) (So, I suppose, you think he was adding a phrase in the back of his mind when he said “Suffer the little Children to come unto me:” “So I can rape them?”–no, the blasphemy is not here, it is with the LA Diocese and its supporters worldwide)
One thing is certain in this case. Christ wept. And he wept and he wept. He weeps still.
Lest you think I’m just down on the Catholic Church, though, let me point out that it’s money and its derivative, power, that commands these obscene privileges. Someone should be in jail over the falsified intelligence (call it “cooked” only if you want a euphemism) that brought on the war in Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of innocents have been killed, including more Americans than died in 9/11. And for what? So people who already have more money than they know what to do with can get their hands on more of it. That’s what this war is really about: transferring money from the little guys’ pockets to the big guys’.
There’s crime all over the map. Scooter commits perjury, over a matter much more important than who’s s-wording his c-word, and gets Bush’s “very considered” forgiveness. Cheney shoots a friend in the face and doesn’t even undergo a breathalyser test. Alberto authorizes torture and gets to be attorney general where he fires people because they’re not enough like him.
Why isn’t someone in jail??
No, I don’t think it’s about the Church. It’s also not about the Bush administration, although they’re the best example right now outside the realm of the Holy See (frankly, I don’t care if that’s spell right, either). Its just that money has its privileges. And the Catholic Church definitely has money. Not everyone can afford to shush up a scandal like this with a 660 million dollar payout. Of course, it’s the power money buys that gives it its privilege, and the Church–all churches–are aggressive pursuers of other means of power, usually in the form of devotees–both in number and political placement.
Yet it’s true those numbers ought not be ignored: unless the Pope himself were to turn Mahoney over to the authorities, it would take an army to put him in jail and keep him there, so it’s not likely Mahoney, himself, will ever do time, whether individually guilty of any crime or not. And it’s far from clear putting even a Cardinal guilty as sin itself in jail would justify a war.
Still, the question persists. Why isn’t someone in jail?
Even more disturbing: why aren’t people asking? Perhaps even deeper still, why are so many people still worshiping God in the churches of the innumerable institutions that have long since put Him/Her/It on a second tier somewhere behind power and money?