Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, 21 December 2017

2 High Priests and Their Very Disappointing Responses to Child Sex Abuse

A Cardinal and an Archbishop in the Catholic Church passed away last week. Their stories are loosely linked and have some similarities, but one big difference. One involves the Boston Globe's exposing of systemic pedophilia in Massachusetts, the other involves a similarly stunning revelation of child sex abuse that predates the Boston Globes expose by several years.

The former priest became Cardinal Law. A brilliant and courageous advocate for civil rights in Mississippi in the 1960's. However, as he grew in responsibility in the church, his response to child sex abusers was to move them from one parish to another, thus enabling them to avoid the consequences of their evil and to always have fresh, unsuspecting victims available. 

He resigned in 2002 after the scandal broke. Cardinal Law was buried today at the Vatican with full honours and a blessing by the Pope himself.

For the second story, we move 1500 kms northeast to St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Archbishop Penney was a local boy and raised himself to the highest level in the church in that province. Here's his story from retired CBC journalist Roger Bill:

Somehow it seems fitting that no picture accompanies the obituary of the former Archbishop of St. John's at the Telegram website.

The Catholic church has wanted Alphonsus Penney to disappear ever since the first priest in the archdiocese was charged with sexually assaulting boys during his watch. That priest was Jim Hickey, and Alphonsus Penney knew Jim Hickey from the time Penney was an assistant priest at St. Joseph's church on Quidi Vidi Road and Hickey was a member of the church choir.

Rev. James Hickey, now deceased, seen here in a file photo, was jailed for sex abuse committed in 1970s.

Their long association made it difficult to believe the archbishop in 1988 when he told a hastily arranged press conference following Hickey's conviction that he never had any indication that Jim Hickey was abusing children. Penney said he had no knowledge of any complaint about anybody. "None," he said.

Later, an inquiry commissioned by the Church concluded that Penney had lied about what he claimed he didn't know.

It should be noted that Penney, himself, commissioned this inquiry and convinced an Anglican bishop to lead it. He resigned as a result of its findings. That's the difference between the two men. 

At the press conference the archbishop was asked why he allowed Jim Hickey to continue to work in a rural parish even though he knew the police were investigating a formal complaint of sexual assault. The diminutive archbishop said he was informed about the complaint, but "it was just one person's word against another."

The cross on Mount Cashel orphanage before it was demolished in 1992. (CBC)

At the time the victim's identity was protected by the court, but several years later that first young man who had the courage to come forward agreed to identify himself in a documentary produced by journalist Deanne Fleet for CBC TV's Here & Now program titled One Man's Word.

His name was Randy Penney, Alphonsus Penney's nephew.

The provincial government established a commission of inquiry, and people across the province were drawn to their televisions and radios every day as young men told painful stories about being abused at the hands of Christian Brothers in the orphanage.

Alphonsus Penney said he didn't know anything about that either and, further, the orphanage wasn't his responsibility. By the time the lawsuits started, Archbishop Penney had disappeared and the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers of Canada was busy trying to shelter assets at the same time it was telling Mount Cashel victims it wanted to compensate them.

Former archbishop Alphonsus Penney dead at 93

The Brothers may have been slow to compensate their victims, but they were quick to demolish the orphanage and sell the site to Sobeys for a grocery store. Most people under 30 probably don't know that the two stone posts beside the park benches across the street from the Howley Estates Sobeys are the orphanage's gate posts, the last reminder of a very, very dark chapter in Newfoundland history.

Scrapping denominational education

Before the sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic church enjoyed immense power in Newfoundland and Labrador. Their hold on education was enshrined in the Articles of Confederation.

However, after a parade of priests and Christian Brothers marched off to jail, then-premier Brian Tobin held a referendum and asked voters if they wanted to end denominational education. An overwhelming majority voted Yes, the constitution was amended, and the church's century-old lock on education was finally broken.

Father Jim Hickey went to jail. He and his fellow priests damaged a lot of lives, and when I learned of his death I thought it would be appropriate if he was buried on the grounds of Dorchester prison in New Brunswick where he had been incarcerated.

Instead, Jim Hickey is buried in a Catholic cemetery in Toronto, but far from the area reserved for priests.

Alphonsus Penney will probably do better.

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