At dinner many years ago I asked my father whether he thought, in general, things were better today than they were when he was growing up. He was a genuinely positive, glass more than half full, kind of guy, progressive and always open to new ideas and technology. His response started heading in an affirmative direction but then wandered into a time when the parish priest kept a watchful eye on the whole community, reigning in those who went astray.
My parents left the church decades before but I knew father was holding out hope, not so much for the institution but for the concept. I wonder what he would have thought of the headline in today’s paper. “Rochester Diocese Files Bankruptcy.”
My mother’s first job after high school, one that lasted until she became pregnant with me, was a clerical position with the Rochester Diocese office which at the time was located in the old CYO building on Chestnut Street where the Garth Fagan Dance Troupe rehearses. She told us how the priests constantly pursued the young girls they hired. When I was at Bishop Kearney HS it was common knowledge that the math and drama teacher was chasing girl students. I have at least two relatives who were molested by priests.
It is obviously not just a problem in the church. The Pentagon estimates 10,000 male and 10,000 female service members are sexually assaulted by fellow service members each year. But because the church has set up this archiac unmarried, male hierarchy as shepherds their crimes seem particularly egregious. Of course they compounded the infractions but covering the crimes up and moving the offenders to other parishes where they could continue to prey on innocents.
The model is broken. The whole ship deserves to go down. It belongs in a museum. The Attorney General needs to ensure that information related to clergy abuse and cover-ups are not able to be kept hidden by this bankruptcy process.”