No Smell of Goat

Week five of my Ignatian online retreat asks me to look at the deep and real evil in the world. The web site:

How much denial of God’s right to praise, reverence, and service can we experience this week? How much worship­ping of other gods? How much violence against the dignity of human life? How much deception or injustice or scandal or depravity? We want to experience the magnitude of the sin of the world, so we don’t hesitate to explore its scope.

Our goal is not to become judgmental and to grow in anger at sinners. Our desire is to experience the ingratitude and prideful independence from God that sin represents. It is disorder, and we are feeling how wrong it is.

The anger is difficult to subdue after reading Grant Gallicho’s summary of catastrophic failure of clergy in the archdiocese to the north of me. I was reading a feature on the whistleblower, canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

There are skeptics on the woman:

“She has either done a very stupid thing or a very brave thing, and I’d like to believe it’s the latter,” said Steve Cribari, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who is believed to be the first American lay person to obtain his licentiate in canon law, in 1977. But as a former federal public defender, he cautioned that there are more allegations against priests that are unfounded than one might think.

“We’re in a kind of reverse inquisition, aren’t we, in a lot of this,’’ Cribari said. “If the hierarchy doesn’t demonstrate it is pure, clean and absolutely altruistically motivated, then we all … vilify them. And I’m not sure that’s right,” Cribari said. “This is still the United States and you are still innocent until proven guilty in our courts.”

Reverse inquisition? Really? Some people have a moral compass. And some don’t. And some who are thought to be experts in morality seem to dither when confronted by deception or injustice or scandal or depravity. Criminals who were jailed or who fled the country were coddled by bishops in a number of dioceses since 2002, the Charter: Chicago, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Philadelphia–and those are the ones we know about. Would that we had a Jennifer Haselberger in every chancery.

Ms Haselberger’s dad laments:

She trained for this for so many years, and now she probably will never have another job within the Catholic Church.

I wouldn’t be so sure. This woman doesn’t have the smell of goat. More like hero.

If Minneapolis-St Paul turns out anything like Kansas City-St Joseph, Pope Francis would be wise to consider one of two options. One, make Jennifer Haselberger a co-adjutor administrator in the Twin Cities archdiocese and remove all governance of clergy from the archbishop and place it in her hands. Two, bring her to Rome to clean up in the Congregation for Clergy and in the CDF.

I just don’t get the paralysis in the episcopacy over this. Archbishop Law might have avoided serious prison time by scooting off to Rome. Bishop Finn wouldn’t pass a background check to be able to teach minors in his own diocese. Archdiocesan lawyers in Philadelphia admitted a former (and conveniently dead) archbishop engaged in criminal behavior.

And even assuming the best of the hierarchy, that this is a witchhunt conducted by the devil manipulating the Press, they are losing the PR battle within the flock. Don’t they have an answer? Are they pure, clean, and totally motivated to protect the innocent deom sexual exploitation? Why don’t they show it? Why can’t they show it?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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