Chill out on the Church; Catholic Clergy Should Not Have to Report Every Complaint

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 29, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Chill out on the Church; Catholic Clergy Should Not Have to Report Every Complaint


Byline: Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

America is not a nation of love, but neither is it a nation of hate. It is an honorable nation of many components; people who love, people who hate, people who are mentally ill, saints and criminals. Except when they are sick or arrested, Americans have a hate relationship with the legal and medical professions. Ask any trial lawyer. We are also a nation that is "anti" this and "anti" that. Among them is a strong anti-clerical, anti-Catholic feeling that often disguises itself with the cloak of liberalism - witness the acceptance of the Brooklyn Museum's attack on Christianity in the name of freedom of speech. When the anti-clerical, anti-Catholic people are teamed up with the sue-and-get-rich-quick bunch and their lawyers, an obnoxious, if not explosive, mixture is created.

Let's get one thing straight: Pedophilia is among the most horrible and heinous of crimes, and one cannot conjure up, without going back to the Middle Ages, punishment of sufficient severity for its perpetrators. It is, in Cardinal Egan's words, "an abomination."

When there is an allegation of child abuse made against a member of the clergy, logically there are but three possibilities: The allegation is true; the allegation is knowingly false and made for the possibility of financial gain; the allegation is in fact false, but the accusers believe it to be true.

Yes, Virginia, believe it or not, there are people who would make false allegations for profit. To these people, the Catholic Church in America represents a seemingly bottomless pocket. Additionally, there is a perception that the church would pay off on even a false claim. With lawyers working on contingencies , it is a no-lose situation for an individual who wakes up one morning and decides he or she was abused by a priest 30 years ago.

There are also troubled people who are walking repositories of anger and imagined wrongs. Their venom is often aimed at large, seemingly impersonal, immutable institutions. In 1956, George Metesky, the Mad Bomber, held New York City hostage because of a wrong that he believed was done to him by Consolidated Edison; "Con Edison Crooks, this is for you." There are collections of misfits, losers and mental cases out there that blame their lack of good fortune and inadequacies in life on the Catholic Church.

It is also within the realm of possibility that people genuinely believe that things happened to them, that in fact, did not occur. The McMartin trial in Manhattan Beach, Calif., the longest U.S. criminal trial, lasted six years, cost the state $15 million, affected the lives of hundreds of children, and was finally determined to be a hoax. While these accusations were, at last, determined to be unfounded, it was clear that some mysterious mental process occurred, where the accusers actually believed something happened that did not happen, and with clear consciences were able to swear falsely.

More recently, we have observed the vogue for hypnotic regression - people under hypnosis who recall all sorts of things that supposedly happened in their childhoods, even things that never did actually occur.

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