Honoring the tragically flawed is tragically flawed

Why, oh why, does the Catholic Church continue to bestow honors and awards on tragically flawed wrong-doers?

Disgraced Former Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali


Trial watchers in Philadelphia have been treated to a firsthand view of vile and disgusting human behavior. What makes it worse is that the evildoers are priests and the victims are children. The lede from the Philadephia Inquirer’s Sunday story on the trial is enough to make even the hard-hearted ill:

Stalking. Groping. Gay bondage porn.

A sexually graphic love letter to a grade-school boy.

That they emerged in testimony about priests – and at times, from priests – only amplified the uneasiness.

One would think that the big boss who allowed this activity to continue and flourish would be castigated and forced to live a life of penance and contrition. Not so much.

Disgraced Philly Cardinal Justin Rigali—who retired last year after the Philadelphia Grand Jury exposed the fact that he was keeping more than two dozen accused priests in ministry in 2011has been honored by the Pope as a special envoy and this week will be a special Mass celebrant at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

So, while Philly jurors hear about how Rigali kept 37 accused predators from ministry, sat idly by as children were abused and accusers came forward, deceived his review board, and oversaw an organization that employed five men who were criminally indicted in 2011 for sex abuse and/or cover-up, Rigali will be the special guest of honor in one of the most famous landmark Catholic Churches in the United States.

Ummm … hello?

In 2004, LA Times writer William Lobdell (full disclosure: Bill is good friend and former business partner) wrote a great story about how child molesting clerics have been honored by Catholic officials, groups and communities that refuse to comprehend the horror of sexual abuse, can’t believe that “such a nice priest” could hurt kids, or simply don’t care:

When congregants at a parish in Rancho Santa Margarita in southern Orange County were told in 2002 that their longtime pastor [Fr. Michael Pecharich] had admitted to molesting a boy three decades earlier, the first reaction by some was to name the parish hall after him. The idea was quickly dropped. Three more alleged victims have come forward since then.

Fast forward to 2012, and little has changed:

Honors and awards are for people who do nice things. Honoring predators and enablers (who have never accounted for their crimes, atoned, made penance or attempted to right their wrongs) is little more than salt in victims’ wounds. I don’t think Jesus would approve.


6 thoughts on “Honoring the tragically flawed is tragically flawed

  1. This comment was posted online this morning, when Archbishop Chaput of Philly said that churches in Philly would be closing: With the cost of Monsignor Lynn’s lengthy trial, the Archdiocese can no longer afford to keep Monsignor Lynn in attorneys AND parishes open at the same time. Why hasn’t anyone asked the Archdiocese and Archbishop Chaput, in particular, how much Monsignor Lynn’s attorneys are costing the members of the Archdiocese? The Archdiocese of Philly will spare no costs in defending Lynn, because his trial is a Landmark trial for the USCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops)! If Lynn goes down, the floodgates for similar trials will open all over the country! There will probably NOT be an Archdiocese, where similar trials for coverups within the Hierarchy are not held. To avoid this catastrophe for the USCB, Philly parishioners are going to be paying the costs……….. and I predict it will be ALL of the costs, unless the USCB jumps in with a monetary offer to help Archbishop Chaput pay for his attorneys!

  2. Judging from the picture, it seems Dolan invited Rigali to New York to make a fashion statement.

    Rigali’s gesture appears he is telling the neighborhood kids, “get off my lawn!”

  3. I would like to remind all in Philly that the Vatican discerned that Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali would be the most spiritual and competent candidates to lead the Archdiocese of Philly! Doesn’t that make one wonder who the competition was?

  4. As far as honor and accolades of bishops, archbishops and cardinals, who shielded Pedophile Priests under their care, I think that it’s not going to do them much good in Hell! Maybe down in Hell, they can display all of their honors and accolades next to their “St. Jude Most Improved Bowlers Trophies!” In all seriousness, it’s too bad that Cardinal Rigali “got out of Dodge(Philly) while the gettin’ was good!” Did anyone else notice how quickly he was transferred by the Vatican to another Archdiocese, when revelations came out in the media that about a dozen Priests with accusations of Pedophilia against them, were still serving as priests in the Archdiocese? Hello????? I actually thought that he would have been made the Arch-Priest at Cardinal Law’s old digs in Rome, the Church of Santa Maria Majore! Hopefully, Judge Sarmina will extend her investigation in Cardinal Rigali’s direction, and if not her, maybe it’ll take another Grand Jury to do so!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *