Monday, August 08, 2005

One Prefect's Disgrace...

I love the smell of scandal in the afternoon.

Great respite, breathing easier, back to biz. It really was a crazy week -- another contribution to The Tablet, readership still going up, draining battles behind-the-scenes. Good thing I was able to sneak in a getaway.

Despite spending yesterday on the road, the news had a curious way of following me. I'd gotten about 18 calls about Levada being subpoenaed in the sacristy of San Fran Cathedral before his farewell liturgy. Whether this was breathless glee or actual reporting depended on the caller.

But here's a development which really rubs me batty:
Cookie Gambucci, whose brother is one of the plaintiffs in the Portland [sex-abuse] case, served the court papers on Levada. She told KCBS reporter Tim Ryan the archbishop called her "a disgrace to the Catholic church."
Are you kidding me? I think I need to vomit.

LATimes runs it a bit differently, but it's still nauseating:
When Levada balked at accepting the subpoena, Cookie Gambucci, who runs a court support services company in nearby Martinez, said she told him he could receive it then or that it would be served on him at the altar during the service.

She said Levada accepted the subpoena, but told her: "This is a disgrace to the church."

Portland attorney Erin Olson, who represents 15 of the Oregon plaintiffs, said Levada had been avoiding the subpoena since May.
Look, I defended Levada against all the screaming at his appointment and am on-record deeming his promotion a good thing for American Catholicism and the future of the CDF. Hell, I'll even give him the benefit of the doubt on the Uribe defense. But if this report is true, his comment is an enormous setback to any illusions of restored credibility or good faith on the part of the bishops, and now from Rome. Levada should absolutely be ashamed of himself and needs to apologize -- and not just because he got snitched out.

For all the out-of-proportion caricatures of Ratzi through his Prefect years, he never called anyone a "disgrace" to the church. And he sure as hell didn't do it to victims of abuse and their families -- after all, who pulled the Maciel and Burresi files out, over the preferences of JP and the Stateheads? And as Anne Burke said, the Panzer gave the Review Board way more respect than many American bishops.

But it's all thrown into question now if the Vatican's new point-man on the matter leaves for Rome seeing just restitution to victims as a "disgrace to the church."

John Wester has been named the new apostolic administrator in San Fran (at Levada's request, bypassing an election by the consultors), and with Levada heading over sometime this week, B16 really has to do damage-control on this one. He absolutely can't let it stand that his hand-picked successor called an abuse case a "disgrace to the church."

With JP in the last years, his health was a valid excuse -- the circle of handlers were frightened that seeing the files in-depth would kill him. But the one who did the "Friday penance" of that close reading for years really has to step up in his new robes and speak out, overruling the man who, this week, is formally taking his place at the desk.



Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

I certainly don't accept the Plaintiff's statement at face value. Some of these sex abuse plaintiffs and their families tend to hear things that weren't said, or misconstrue things that were said. I do think that Levada's statement to the process server rings true. I can't blame the process-server for doing what he did, but I can't fault Levada's reaction either. I certainly see no reason why he should apologize. All in all, it would be a funny story if the stakes weren't so high.

8/8/05 18:58  
Blogger Peter Nixon said...

I have no comment on Abp. Levada's tenure in SF, but I have to say I'm inclined to forgive his flash of temper. The process server was grandstanding, which they tend to enjoy doing. I don't find it credible at all that she had no alternative to serving it before mass. They wanted to get a rise out of Levada and they got it. I completely agree that Levada should testify, but I have little time for the theatrics of the trial bar.

8/8/05 20:49  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Does it seem to anyone else that Benedict's administration is a little disorganized thus far? Examples: 1. The contradictions and mixed signals between Ratzinger and the vatican press office, ESPECIALLY over something as delicate as Israel, 2. some of the personalities in the curia have been acting as if they run the show (or are sure they will soon be canned), 3. what is considered an especially important document to Ratzinger (even when he was PCDF) -- on the "less than desireable" acceptence of homosexuals to the priesthood -- has all but put the american heirarchy on death watch... and the list goes on. I suppose its the bug of transition floating around the various administrations, though I still see a lack of necessary papal support all around. And more than usual scrutiny (as seen in the Levada piece) is in no short supply toward his appointments, potential and otherwise.

8/8/05 21:15  
Blogger granny redhead said...

Oh stop.

You're so depressing.

9/8/05 05:50  

Post a Comment

<< Home