|In this exalted clerical world of Cardinal Egan victims of clerical abuse just don't hit the radar screen.|
Michael Sean Winters went on one of his rants today about an interview given by retired NY Archbishop Cardinal Egan to Connecticut Magazine. I have my issues at times with MSW, but I have to admit this interview of Egan's is a doozey. I have extracted some parts of the interview where Egan talks about his record on clerical sexual abuse, which was of course, flawless. There are reasons for this unique view of his and so rather than rant about it, the latter part of this post deals with some real reasons for Egan's unique view.
EGAN: You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. The newspapers pretend as though what happened under Walter Curtis (Bishop of the Bridgeport diocese from 1961 to 1988) happened to me. Walter was a wonderful, wonderful, dear gentleman. He had gotten very old and they were sitting there. And I took care of them one by one. None of them did anything wrong. One of them spent four years in treatment at the Institute of Living in Hartford. I investigated this and at the end I put him in a convent as an assistant chaplain in Danbury. Only once did I not use the Institute of the Living—I used Johns Hopkins because the man was in Baltimore.
CT Magazine: You mean Laurence Brett (a serial molester who was cycled through eight parishes in the diocese and a family of ten in California before relocating to Maryland, where he was accused of abusing more boys. He was still on the run from the FBI when he died in the Caribbean in 2010).
EGAN: Yep. I sent him to the most expensive place and I did exactly what we were told to do. And as a result, not one of them (the accused priests) did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.
When I left Bridgeport—you can look it up—we had the most priests-to-people of any diocese in the country. Our seminary was the biggest in the nation. I built new schools there. We had a Catholic Charities thing that we did. So we had a wonderful diocese with this terrible thing that was hovering over the entire nation.
I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about....
....CT Magazine: I believe you are. What about Fr. Pzolka? (A Stamford priest accused of raping, sodomizing and beating dozens of children. He died in 2009).EGAN: Of course, that was in the newspaper one thousand times. I arrived in Bridgeport and found out there was a guy that was accused of all this. He never did anything while I was there. I sent him to the Institute of Living. I kept him there and kept him there and he broke his way out and escaped. Could you do anything more for a person you’d never heard of?
I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled. I never heard of the man. The same thing with Laurence Brett. In the beginning….I hate to go over this—why are we going over all this again?
CT Magazine: Because clearly this has been a key, a divisive, issue that has challenged the Church.EGAN: Terrible. But are you surprised that any bishop who lived in that period and had any involvement with that stuff, by even inheriting it, that it wasn’t going to become the focus of the newspapers? I don’t think I should be upset about that, or you should be, or anybody else. The era was such that in every diocese, even someone that had no cases, was going to be beaten up with it.
I tell younger bishops, ‘Don’t let one overriding issue be the focus. Do your job, grow your diocese, strengthen your schools, build your charities, and even it does become an obsession with the media, that’s life.’
So I do think it’s time to get off this subject or at least say that this is a man who in 20 years heading great big dioceses never had a case. We had eight or nine or ten cases that I had to attend to from my predecessor, not from me. That’s never been printed. You couldn’t print that, nobody would ever dare print it, because it ruins the narrative. That is the truth. The narrative is what it’s got to be to sell newspapers.
It just strikes me that you could go around and find out that there were some pretty good things that took place.
CT Magazine: There is no doubt that you did many good things in Bridgeport. But one can not talk to a person in your position, from any diocese in the country, and not ask about this because it has so traumatized the faithful.EGAN: Well it would be easy to write about without anything else. I’m not the slightest bit surprised that of course the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about. If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is......
CT Magazine: Do you mean ‘good’ in that positive changes came about as a result of the crisis? EGAN: Good that…the record, I think, is an excellent record. And the fact that sex abuse becomes overpowering in people’s eyes, that’s a part of life.
CT Magazine:EGAN: First of all, I couldn’t apologize for something that happened when I wasn’t there. Furthermore, every one of those cases was in litigation before a court, or threatened to be, and every one was handled correctly. I had the first fellow dismissed and the Holy See didn’t allow us to do that anymore, right?, and I handled every case exactly the right, I never hesitated to have the very finest treatment, the very finest of everything. And not any of them did anything out of line. If I was sure, I couldn’t do anything, if I wasn’t sure, I controlled them. No one could have done any better and if there was any mistake in any of that—I’m sorry—but I don’t think there was any mistake at all.
CT Magazine: In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong. But I hate to go back over this. I think there’s more to life than that one issue, especially when I had no cases.
The above quotes are pretty classic clerical narcissism. There is zero recognition of victims, unless one counts the predators like Fr Pzolka of whom Egan asks "Could you do anything more for a person you had never heard of?" In the clerical world of Cardinal Egan, priests are persons for whom he did all that he could--even he ones he had never heard of--but the victims of the priests aren't even on his radar. Hence he can describe his handling of the clerical abuse crisis as 'good' even though he never met with a victim; state "we never did anything wrong", and "I handled every case exactly right". He can say all those things because the actual victims don't and never did exist for him. How can this be, a less exalted lay type person might think?
Here's a link to an article on Catholica Australia written by former priest Richard Boehrer, who is the author of the recently released fictional novel "The Purple Culture" Boehrer earned a Phd in theology and rose to become a diocesan chancellor. It was during this period of his life that his bishop made a comment that started Boehrer on a different relationship with the Church: "You think it's more important to be a Christian, where as I think it's more important to be a Catholic." That's actually a true statement for any bishop who reaches that rank in the Church. At that point a man really can't be a Christian first and Catholic second, as Bishop William Morris found out. In the Catholica article Boehrer explains the signature traits of the Catholic Episcopal culture as aristocratic by history and tradition, cultic in their need for total control of the information flow, addictive, and culturally narcissistic:
......Another component of the purple culture is narcissism. The DSM-IV [LINK], the diagnostic manual for psychotherapeutic professionals, lists nine diagnostic criteria for narcissism, any five of which are said to confirm the diagnosis. Eight of them express behavior flowing from unwarrantable self-exaltation.
Professionals tell us that a large group of people can be narcissistic. For example, an elite military force, indoctrinated as being special, praised for their specialness, wearing the insignia of specialness, considering themselves warriors without peer, and having a sense of invulnerability. When shown to be vulnerable they can react with violence even on innocent non-combatants or prisoners.
It is theorized that we all begin life as narcissists and lose that characteristic as we mature. Professionals point out, however, that narcissism can be re-acquired. People can reach a degree of other-centeredness and then re-cultured into a return to self-absorption. We hear bishops refer to their assembly as "the most exclusive club in the world", and their society containing those cultural behaviors as a "perfect" society. And then, there is their disdain for the laity's wisdom.....
......It is clear that bishops did not experience guilt in their abetment of and cover-up for priest sexual abusers. They did not experience guilt because their addiction to their purple culture blinded them to the devastation. They did not experience guilt because they were able, consciously or not, to give themselves a personal exemption from wrongdoing. They were acting for a higher cause, their divinely decreed culture. They did not experience guilt because it would question the perfection of their culture and themselves as reflections of that culture. They did not experience guilt because their eyes, ears, minds and hearts are turned in one direction, and it is not towards the laity. The laity are totally discounted. (With the possible exception today of attorneys)......
If one adds the fact Egan made it into the even more exclusive global club which wears red, his take on his performance in the abuse crisis should not be shocking at all. None of which bodes well for what we can expect from the soon to be Cardinal Dolan. All of this is why I too call myself a Christian first, and Catholic second. It's why I have no delusions about whether or not the 'reform of the reform' is about anything other than keeping the Purple Culture exclusive, aristocratic, and perfectly in control of all things Catholic.