The Morning After
Well, we're all digging out today here. The above is the editorial cartoon from Tony Auth in today's Inquirer.
The editorial pages are reacting with predictable fury. The Daily News leader says
No horror novel could capture the depravity described in this report....
And what was the archdiocese's response yesterday? Shamefully, it was to continue to deny the undeniable and imply that the report was a smear on the Catholic Church.
In the face of such arrogant denials, why should anyone trust this archdiocese?
True though that is, I'm starting to take umbrage at all this dumping-on. It might be my Philly Catholic DNA ("When in doubt, circle the wagons.") coming to the surface, but still: A 40 month grand jury came up with no charges -- when they could've indicted a ham sandwich if they wanted to -- and yet we still have this report on our hands.
As no charges were filed, the word "libel" has already been thrown around. And some rightly-deserved good reputations will be tarnished as a result of this. While I'm irate at the pulling of the anti-Catholic card on a report of actions which the church brought on itself, it is far from a strictly black-and-white moment.
I'm not looking out for the institution, but those who undeservedly have been swept under this tidal wave and will forevermore be tainted, seen as suspect and inhibited from the complete and credible service of souls. Yet, charges or not, it's not an invalid question to ask how far the church has gotten from its mission -- as the Inky editorial points out
So many victims over so many years. This was not proper pastoral care of young souls. This was not living out the Gospel. The archdiocese says it cooperated fully with the probe. City prosecutors, however, said the archdiocese's lawyers put up obstacles every step of the way.To close, I feel for my archbishop. Justin Rigali had nothing to do with any of this, but he now faces the most painful moment in the long and triumphant history of Catholic Philadelphia. Moving forward, business as usual is most certainly NOT the answer, but as the sitting master of the culture, he holds the keys to its future in his hands.
And if anyone can bring things into line here, it's Rigali. I hope. I guess we'll have to wait and see. He's got a high place in my prayers.