FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From the Vatican to Penn State

“There is only one religion although there are a hundred versions of it.”

— George Bernard Shaw, Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant.

Penn State and the Vatican have some things in common (although there’s been no talk of shutting down the Vatican whereas a few curmudgeons suggested Penn State shut down its football program for a year; nor is there any talk at the Vatican of firing its head coach,  Benedict XVI, whereas Penn State fired both its president,  Graham Spanier, and its head coach, Joe Paterno.) The Vatican and Penn State each has formal reports describing the errors of the institution’s ways. Penn State has a grand jury report detailing sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky and the Vatican has four formal reports detailing multiple accounts of sexual abuse by assorted priests in Ireland (to mention only one of many countries with such reports.)  The last two pertaining to Ireland were the Murphy Report in 2009 and the Cloyne report in 2011.

The Murphy Report examined more than 300 abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin between 1975 and 2004.  (The Murphy for whom the report is named is not Father Lawrence Murphy who abused more than 200 deaf children in Wisconsin between 1950 and 1974.  Father Murphy did not write a report detailing his activities and those who did, did so in letters describing his activities to top Vatican officials including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict.  The letters were ignored.) The Murphy report said that rather than being concerned about the children, the Church was concerned about “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets.”  In response to the Murphy report,  Pope Benedict sent out a pastoral letter on March 19, 2010.  In that letter he said he shared “in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them. . . .”

The Murphy report was followed by the Cloyne Report that was released in July 2011.  That report said that from 1996 to 2009 the clergy in Ireland’s Cloyne Diocese ignored complaints about 19 priests.  In response to the Cloyne report the Vatican said enough contrition is enough contrition and recalled its ambassador, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Papal Nuncio, to the Vatican, for consultation.  Vatican Spokesman, Fr Ciro Benedettini said:  “The recalling of the Nuncio, a measure rarely used by the Holy See, denotes the seriousness of the situation, and the desire of the Holy See to deal with it (with) objectivity and with determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions.”  In referring to “excessive reactions” the spokesman may have been referring to the speech to Parliament given by Ireland’s prime minister four  days earlier in which he referred to the Church’s  dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” in failing to deal with child sex abuse.  He said:  “The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’”   On November 3, 2011, Ireland closed its Vatican embassy.  Dublin’s foreign ministry said the closure occurred because the embassy “yields no economic return.” Presumably it has nothing to do with the Vatican recall of the Ambassador 4 months earlier.

Happy Valley is a lot like the Vatican except that football is its religion. Instead of the Murphy Report and the Coyne Report, folks in Happy Valley have the Grand Jury report.  Its substance is not that different from the  Irish reports, however.  According to the Grand Jury report those in charge of the institution have been willing to overlook sexual abuse of children by one of its high priests, Jerry Sandusky, the high priest whose high jinks have disgraced  the institution.

Mr. Sandusky is not only alleged to have abused children over an extended period.  He set up a non-profit foundation called Second Mile the goal of which was to provide programs for troubled youth. The kinds of conduct in which Mr. Sandusky allegedly engaged in with troubled youth is not the kind of conduct contributors to the foundation thought they were supporting.

In response to the Grand Jury report,  some suggested that as an expression of penance Penn State should forfeit its last home game against Nebraska.  That would be like suggesting that the Vatican cancel Sunday services to show that it really cared about sexual abuse of children.  It would never happen. After all, Sunday services are a time when the offenders can formally seek forgiveness and so was the last home game against Nebraska.  The occasion of the final home game was marked by many as the time to move forward and the beginning of the healing process since the university has now had more than a week to flagellate itself.

Although there are many similarities between the church and Penn State there is one significant difference.  The era of sexual abuse of children at Penn State has almost certainly come to an end.  That cannot be said for the Church.

Christopher Brauchli is an attorney living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail