Thursday, July 5, 2012

priest-beater acquitted

A 44-year-old man was acquitted in San Jose today of beating a retired priest in 2010 after alleging that the priest had raped him during a camping trip in 1975. William Lynch did not deny punching 67-year-old Jerold Lindner, who, Lynch said, had violently sodomized him when he was seven ... 37 years ago. Lynch was acquitted of felony assault and elder abuse. The jury was split on a count of misdemeanor assault.

Bit by bit and row by row, the high and sanctified walls of the Vatican give way before the human revulsion at what the Holy Roman Catholic Church has made clear it wishes would magically be forgotten -- the sexual abuse of children by its minions and the cover-ups the church has attempted to hide behind.

Bit by bit the victims are finally being heard after sometimes decades of living with ancient wounds... wounds that are enough to make Christ weep. Testimony, both before grand juries and in open courtrooms, whittles away whatever good name the church once had. It is slow in coming ... but it is coming. Candidates for the priesthood dwindle. Vatican coffers lose vast sums as penalty payouts or hush money is expended. And attendance at church? I don't know.

God is no excuse. Arrogating a powerful throne to yourself is only as good as the belief provided by those who assure that power -- the people ... many of whose children were raped and enslaved. Literally -- no hyperbole necessary -- raped and enslaved. This is not a matter of being against Roman Catholics. It is a matter of human decency ... or, in the case of the church, a vast indecency.

The outrage is no longer limited to self-serving blogs like this. There are accumulating facts now that override and outshine the opinions and gnashing of teeth.

It is just, in my mind, that this institution should collapse. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole institution shouldn't be delivered into the hands of sharia law. And yet, with its billion-plus Catholic membership worldwide, there is something mesmerizing about its crumbling, crumbling, crumbling. It is hard not to be astounded that anyone smart enough to devise these high walls of holiness could be so utterly and profoundly and insanely stupid ... and that's not to mention cruel.

As always, there is the question, "why did they do it?" And the answer now is the same as it has been in the past: "Because they could."

Churches, political parties, banks, corporations, dictators, tycoons ... the much-empowered everywhere: "Because they could."

And as in the past, there are those willing and able to say "no." I am grateful to them.


  1. First, let me say that I have no problem with the actions of Mr. Lynch, and that I am gratified that the jury found him not guilty. I am also naturally repulsed at the actions of some within the Catholic Church in their protection of priest molesters.

    Before you call for the walls to come down, however, please consider that the Catholic Church is, in fact, the largest non-governmental charitable organization in the world. If it crumbles, there are literally millions of people who will be left without schools, hospitals, and even food.

    Let's put it another perspective: According to the best data available, about 1 in 10 students in public schools will be the victims of some form of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher or other school employee. In many cases, school officials attempt to silence the student and/or protect the teacher. This is many, many times the number of children who have ever been molested by a priest.

    Will you call for the downfall of the public school system? If not, why? Are you even aware of the level of sexual abuse taking place in public schools? If not, why?


    How I wish the above comments did not have to be "anonymous." Ah well, it's just my taste.

    Irrespective of the source, all of what is said above is entirely apposite and responsible. It belongs in the discussion which is obviously far more complex than my disgusted reactions would suggest.

    Several analogies come to mind: 1. The old joke about, "the operation was a success but the patient died." 2. After World War II and the fall of Hitler, innumerable ordinary Germans suffered the loss of a stable government. The American, French and British allies took on former Nazi functionaries as a means of restoring order and stability. The Russians did not. A western Germany flourished. An eastern Germany slipped quietly into a poorly-administered and grinding existence. 3. If everyone is complicit in wrongful acts, are they any longer wrongful?

    But all of this, while mentally adroit and in some sense reasonable, does not address the starving mother with pleading eyes who holds out a hand for a bit of rice to give her baby. Does she care about the background or 'evil' of the one who might deliver that rice? Surely not and her hunger and that of her baby are mountainously more important than the philosophies of those who deliver rice.

    There is no thing so good that it does no partake of the evil it mirrors. Yin and yang are not just some adroit symbolism. And if this is so, then the question becomes not just what good are you willing to assert and actualize, but simultaneously, what evil are you willing to take responsibility for? Young revolutionaries, for example, are often willing to shed blood in the overthrow of a maniacal dictatorship, but are frequently forgetful of their own fervor when their new and improved administration comes to power. Yin and yang.


    And so, in the specific instance of the Vatican and its widespread depredations, I think it is fair to say that those depredations were and remain the handmaidens of some quantifiable good. Blessings and curses, hand in hand. But the question that needs to be answered clearly is, do the blessings absolve the curses? Does the 'yes' of one aspect erase or somehow excuse the 'no?' Is there honestly a way to save the baby while throwing out the bath water? Is there really an excuse to be found in "everybody does it?" If other religions and schools and institutions indulge in similar behavior, how can the Vatican be nailed singly and specifically to the cross?

    I guess I think it is a choice -- a personal choice, without as within. What harm do I select when selecting a good and am I honestly willing to assume the very specific, hungry-mother, responsibility for its fallout?

    Naturally, since I would like to think well of myself, I am not very good at taking responsibility for the less-humane and less-gorgeous fallout from my choices. I wail and holler and philosophize as a means of excusing myself.

    Nevertheless, I choose. And my choice is this: I do not think that because many indulge in the sexual abuse of children, the Vatican is somehow less vile and heinous and deserving of calumny and perhaps demise. I do not think that the palpable good the institution has done and continues to do can be allowed to act as a shield of forgetfulness when it comes to such abuses. When I am walking down the sidewalk and see a bit of dog shit in my path, I sidestep THIS bit of dog shit not because there are other bits of dog shit elsewhere, but because THIS bit stinks.

    I choose.

    Will the patient die as a result of a successful operation? I don't know, but I do know that using death or demise as a protective excuse for a malevolent life strikes me as too cowardly by half. I choose to say no, and do what I can to shoulder the responsibility for my choices.

    Emmanuel Kant said approximately, "act so that the maxim of your action may be taken as a universal law." An encouraging pointer perhaps, but yin and yang strike me as stepping beyond the limitations of what is so comfortingly referred to as the law.

    I choose... and then pray like a bandit that I will find the courage to be responsible for the negative fallout from my 'positive' activities. It makes my stomach clench when I think of a starving mother ... and still I will say "no" to an organization that has for so long perpetrated unspeakable acts. This dog shit is this dog shit.

    I choose ... and hope I will not excuse myself just because "everybody else does it" as well.

  4. Wouldn't cleaning a house make a house better? How does removing pedophiles from any organization cause that organization to fail rather than improve? If they're doing good things, why were walls built around them anyway?

  5. Hi Charlie -- As always, I enjoy your crisp clarity. Throw the bums out! Wash the floors! And I don't disagree any more than the Vatican disagrees ... at least on paper.

    But the problem of individual priests sexually abusing children is just the tip of a more hidden iceberg. What of the aid-ers and abettors, the ones who blurred and blur the focus by sending offenders along to other parishes and other environments where other children might be abused ... without, as Vatican documents order, informing those in charge of the new and distant venue? Or, when those at the new station were informed, they too overlooked or fudged previous and newly-minted infractions?

    I don't disagree with your assessment. If it's dirty, wash it. But the extent of the dirt and the amount of washing necessary is, I suspect, one of the reasons the Vatican cannot concede much by way of confession and repentance. Were they to do so, who knows what temples might tumble and what princes might fall and what income streams might be dammed?

  6. Aiding and abetting is a crime, don't exclude them from the house cleaning.

  7. Obviously i'm of the opinion that the church has plenty of temples and princes. And if any institution can't withstand such a cleansing, it is corrupted beyond usefulness. What good that was left within that failure will find another way to do good.