Posts tagged “Catholic priest abuse scandal

Catholic Cops: Enough is Enough, Radical Changes are Needed to Make the Church Relevant

The ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department and other law enforcement agencies throughout southeastern Wisconsin are well represented by officers of the Roman Catholic faith.  I am one of them. Today, the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee (southeastern Wisconsin) released thousands of pages of documents related to the priest abuse scandal.

“They include some of the archdiocese’s most prolific sex abusers,” writes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Annysa Johnson.  “Among them: the late Father Lawrence Murphy, who is believed to have molested as many as 200 deaf boys, most during his decades at St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis; and Sigfried Widera, who was facing 42 counts of child abuse in Wisconsin and California when he jumped to his death from a Mexico hotel room in 2003 as authorities closed in.”

Granted, only about one-percent of all priests were, in some way, implicated in these abominable, pedophilic attacks. However, it is the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up of these abuses that is, in all actuality, almost as repugnant as the horrific offenses.

In the mid-1930s, law enforcement agencies recognized that, to remain viable and respected, they would need to police themselves.  As a result, virtually every American police department has an internal affairs and/or professional standards unit that investigates allegations of misconduct.  However, the Catholic Church’s version of IAD is akin to a criminal fence looking into the activities of his supplier; whereby, the fence tells the thief it is time to move from Milwaukee to, say, California, before the police catch a whiff one what transpired, while knowing that the fence will steal yet again.

“Society’s general attitude toward perpetrators of sexual abuse moved in a trajectory from understanding abuse as sin with the possibility of forgiveness, to psychological flaw with hope of treatment, to deeper issues of addiction and finally to criminal activity,” wrote retired Wisconsin Bishop Richard Slkba.

‘Lame’ is the word many Catholics use to describe Sklba’s response.  In their heart-of-hearts, even young teenagers are fully aware that sexual abuse, whether the victim is an adult or a juvenile, is not only unacceptable, it is criminal.  Why a well-educated and politically savvy Catholic bishop, and the hierarchy of the Church would believe otherwise, suggests, in my opinion, that, at least in the United States, the Roman Catholic clergy sees itself as a brotherhood rather than a calling.

In all sincerity, Roman Catholic law enforcement officers, many of whom attend Mass on Sunday with their families in tow, have, quite frankly, had enough of the sex crimes committed by members of the clergy and the excuses from the leadership of an archdiocese that, as a moral entity, should simply know better.  Being a member of a Church that, at least in a de facto sense, winks-and-nods at priests and/or seminarians who do not fully support the ENTIRE moral mission of the Holy Father, makes me, and other cops wonder why we should give even one thin dime to an institution that, as documents suggest, has diverted funds from other Catholic missions in order to pay sexual predator priests to simply ‘go away.’

Speaking for a host of Catholic law enforcement officers, if the Church of St. Peter truly wishes to remain relevant in the 21st Century and beyond, reforms are desperately needed.  Virtually to a person, Catholic law enforcement officers believe, first and foremost, that priests should be permitted to marry.  Some, including myself, believe the time has come for the Church to recognize female priests as well.  These two simple reforms will result in the break-up of the strange old boys network—no pun intended—that has brought the Roman Catholic Church to the brink of moral irrelevancy.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013