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Dec 19 2013

Grand Inquisitor Bill Donohue leaps into action!

This is what Catholics need: a sense of justice, and a desire to vigorously pursue abuse within the church, rather than covering it up. Transparency and a willingness to change! Investigation and ending the abuse! So in the St Paul diocese there in my backyard, we’ve got a priest, Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has been charged with touching a choir boy inappropriately, and I would expect the church to take the issue seriously and bring in secular investigators to either clear his name or get a dangerous man out of their church. The Catholic League is willing to help and … OH BILL DONOHUE NO!

“Somebody knows who this character is who is making these accusations — I can’t wait to get to the bottom of this,” said Catholic League President Bill Donahue. “Nienstedt has been the subject of a non-stop crusade orchestrated by enemies of the Catholic Church. The time has come when people need to fight back.”

Donohue’s solution to the problem of pedophilia in his beloved church is … to hunt down and expose the names of children who dare to accuse priests. He also accuses the St Paul police of anti-Catholic bias.

Not that the Catholic church needs his help. They’ve got their response down to a ritual.

St. Paul Police has yet to comment. However, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith accused the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Tuesday of not fully cooperating with investigations into alleged sex abuse by priests. He said that church officials declined to make clergy available to investigators.

36 comments

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  1. 1
    michaelbusch

    My parents are still giving money to the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese. I don’t understand how even devout Catholics can rationalize that one.

  2. 2
    Raging Bee

    What other organization in the USA even has the power to “decline to make its members available” to law-enforcement? That alone shows a deep sickness in our legal system, even before we get to the child-rape stuff.

  3. 3
    saganite

    This is not only abhorrent – that should be clear to everybody – but also stupid. I still can’t grasp why they keep doing this with every new, far too common scandal.
    Not only do this cover-ups eventually fail, many of their own members want to see full cooperation; and why wouldn’t they? They send their kids to these churches, after all.
    Instead they keep trying to block investigations all over the world. Completely ignoring the victims for a moment: This is bad for the Catholic Church itself, people trust it less and less. In Germany, there were large waves of people leaving it after recent scandals about child abuse and waste of money and whatever else. It’s completely untrustworthy and this becomes more and more obvious to its members-for-now each day.
    So even from a completely selfish Catholic Church point of view, they should fight hard to restore the supposed moral superiority of their church, snuff out criminals and molesters and cooperate fully with the authorities to restore whatever trust can be restored at this point.
    Which may not even be that much, considering “priests molesting altar boys” has become sort of a punchline whenever the Catholic Church is mentioned. It’s a meme now, a running gag, as horrible as that sounds. And despite that, they STILL continue to try and cover these issues up, rather than expose them fully and fight back against the particularly awful scum within their ranks.
    Evil AND stupid, I think.

  4. 4
    kenbakermn

    I’m not a defender of the Catholic church, but to me the accusation against Neinstedt seems weak. It doesn’t seem likely that one time he grabbed some kid’s butt during a photo session. More likely it was accidental contact among people in a crowd, if it happened at all.

    On the other hand, he stepped aside pretty quickly when the accusation came out. Makes you wonder if he’s expected others to speak up. And all those others on the list. Holy crap! Makes it seem like buggery is in the institutional by-laws.

    Anyway, as an ex-Cat, this whole episode makes me miss the church even less. Although strangely (sorry PZ, I’m thread-jacking a little) for some time even after I had pretty firmly settled atheism in my own mind, I still often found the Sunday mass to be a comforting and pleasant experience. Especially the Easter and Christmas masses. When I was a semi-regular church-goer and my kids were in the Catholic school, we got to know many really decent, good people. That part I miss.

    Now to re-establish my street cred, Sunday morning is my coffee shop and weekly newspaper time these days, which is also comforting and pleasant.

  5. 5
    jaxkayaker

    Clearly, Bill Donohue is objectively pro-child-rapist.

  6. 6
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    kenbakermn @ #3

    I’m not a defender of the Catholic church, but

    That ‘but’ there? That belies your prior statement. Since you have no stake in this, I wonder why, considering the preponderance of truth in all other accusation against Catholic priests, you wouldn’t take the victim’s accusation at face value?

    I don’t even see by what measure the accusation could be weak. I don’t think you’re actually suggesting that a child was groomed to make such an accusation, so you’re tentative disbelief is misplaced and, well, pretty fantastical.

    _____

    Ugh. I am not surprised by another story like this and that makes the world a darker place.

  7. 7
    LykeX

    It’s hard to know what to say to cases like this. It’s so unbelievably sickening. If it wasn’t such a serious subject, I’d be tempted to laugh at them. It’s just so ridiculously over-the-top viciously evil, it’s like watching cartoon villains in action.

    Priest is accused of molesting a child. What do we do? Accuse the child of being part of an anti-Catholic conspiracy and then help the priests evade being questioned by the authorities. Yeah, that sounds like the right move.
    And then of course, when people get angry at your disgusting behavior, you can go: “See? Told you they were prejudiced against Catholics.”

    And of course, it’s not limited to Catholics. However, I think the structure of the Catholic church makes it easier for these things to occur. It’s easier to move a priest to a different parish and the hierarchy is stronger.

    I may be wrong about this, but I get the impression that Protestants are less committed to a particular church. I’ve heard from Protestants that switched to a different church because they disagreed with some point of doctrine. You can’t really do that as a Catholic.
    Also, a Protestant can’t be threatened with excommunication in the same way, since the church doesn’t play the same central role in Protestant theology as it does in Catholic.

    Finally, I don’t think Protestants have the same family tie to a particular denomination as Catholics. Catholics will identify as Catholics, just as their parents and grand parents, but I don’t often hear of people identifying strongly as e.g. Lutheran.
    Maybe that’s a result of limited experience, but I get the impression that Protestants more often identify first as broadly Christian. Switching from one denomination to another isn’t like to cause major family conflict (perhaps excepting a few of the more radical sects, like Westboro Baptist), because at least you’re still a Christian.

    All this goes together to mean that Catholic priests have more options for enforcing silence and protecting criminal priests.

  8. 8
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    *headdesk*

    Why do they double down every time? Christ, at this point “double down” is an understatement. Double down, triple down, quintuple down, pentuple down… I don’t know enough greek to know what to call it when they’ve done it thousands of times.

  9. 9
    LykeX

    I think “kilo-” is derived from Greek, so kilodown?

  10. 10
    pinkey

    “Somebody knows who this character is who is making these accusations — I can’t wait to get to the bottom of this…”

    Don’t mean for Billy to be the butt of a joke, but the truth always comes out in the end. Catholics should not speak of excitement getting to the bottom of anything.

  11. 11
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    So with the suffix that would be… kilople down?

  12. 12
    twas brillig (stevem)

    But isn’t that what the word, “catholic” means: “Standard, consistent”? The RCC seems to be very consistent in their responses, never changing even the slightest. And they can never acknowledge anything the altar-boys say; “They’re just boys pulling a foolish prank, you know how boys are, those little rascals, you can’t take them seriously, they’re just hitting back at the priests who teach them right from wrong.”

    Pink Floyd got it right when they sang, “Teacher, leave those kids alone! They don’t need no education…”

  13. 13
    One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login

    Under what law do the police have to go through the diocese to interview a priest? If a teacher or coach is suspected, the cops don’t have to ask the school admins for permission — do they? The priest has an address, what stops a police lieutenant from knocking on the door and asking for him?

  14. 14
    kenbakermn

    Thomathy @ #6.

    My point, which admittedly I did not express very strongly, is that, from reading PZ’s blog and Ed’s Dispatch blog and others we know how the right wing fundies can come up with wild accusations on flimsy or sometimes non-existent evidence. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard. There is more than enough credible evidence of clergy abuse as it is.

    Now, if the accusation against Neinstedt turns out to be credible, or if other accusations against him start coming out, then I wil repudiate my previous comment.

  15. 15
    sonofrojblake

    church officials declined to make clergy available to investigators

    Can someone who knows what they’re talking about please explained to this baffled Brit how that works? Is that your fifth amendment thing? Or what?

  16. 16
    Brother Yam

    Not a legal scholar, but isn’t getting in the way of an investigation illegal? Don’t people get, you know, arrested for conspiracy? How is it that any of this is optional. Start with conspiracy charges and work your way up to RICO if you have to — this shit has to stop.

    Also, the priest that performed our wedding was already thrown under the bus earlier this year for his involvement in this affair. Not that I feel sorry for the smarmy bastard as I was going through the motions by the time I wedded me darlin’ bride. Church wedding was for Moms.

  17. 17
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @stevem

    They’re just boys pulling a foolish prank, you know how boys are, those little rascals, you can’t take them seriously, they’re just hitting back at the priests who teach them right from wrong.”

    Clearly these priests aren’t doing a very good job, then.

    Also, seconding sonofrojblake at #15. Over here, it is very much illegal to refuse to comply with a police investigation. In a case as serious as child molestation people would certainly be facing charges. I don’t understand how the diocese can “refuse to make clergy availabe for investigation”. Or even why the police have to ask the diocese. In short, I’m confused how it’s at all possible for the church to cover this shit up in the manner which they do.

  18. 18
    PZ Myers

    I also think the case against Nienstedt is weak…which is all the more reason to be open to investigation and get it settled.

    Failing to cooperate with the police, and now, having Donohue trying to hunt down the identity of the alleged victim is not a good sign, however. This case would die if the investigation by the police found a trivial instance of a friendly pat on the backside. It’s going to grow in the darkness, and make everyone wonder what they’re trying so hard to hide.

  19. 19
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re “refuse to make clergy available for investigation”:

    Is it a real thing or just some sort of “urban legend” of the crime of Obstruction of Justice? IANAL but the media cop-shows always seem to bring that up as a threat to make suspects cooperate. If it is real, then I add my voice to everyone asking, “Why does the church get immunity to this charge, while everyone else is vulnerable?” Or is that another of my foolish questions? I.E.:The church is *superior* to government, that’s what the 1st amendment is all about; the government can’t regulate religion; visa-verse is not a problem (ever). So all the laws are only for the common people, church people are exempt.

  20. 20
    RFW

    Somebody. needs to point out to Gas-bag-in-chief Donohue that Dante, who was surely a reasonably devout Catholic (proof: he wasn’t burnt at the stake), put any number of popes in various circles of hell in The Inferno.

    Donohue (did I mention that he’s a gas bag?) seems to think that RC priests have no human failings and can do no wrong. How wrong he is! A very good friend who is a Catholic recounts that as a girl growing up in San Francisco, her mother said about the priesthood “they’re just men.”

  21. 21
    Rey Fox

    I think they just can’t help it at this point. Not the molestation necessarily, but the coverup. It’s the way the church has always done it, and they’ve always escaped any real harm, so why do anything differently?

  22. 22
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    kenbakermn, like PZ has said, hiding in the dark isn’t doing them any good. I am more suspicious because of it. Even if the case is weak, I would hardly call it a low standard to default to believing the victim in cases like this. The other options, other than not opining on the matter at all (a non-option, really), aren’t appealing; it’s too difficult to believe anything ‘they’ say anymore.

  23. 23
    Rey Fox

    And, of course, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this cabal of old faux-celibates weren’t aware of the phrase “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup”. I’m even doubtful of how aware they are of how widespread the view of the Catholic Church as a kid-rape palace is.

  24. 24
    fabianocaccin

    either clear his name or get a dangerous man out of their church

    I swear I read “out of their crotch”.

  25. 25
    Conservative Newswire

    Bill is the walking embodiment of Christian tribalism. It’s really not a bad thing for him to get publicity, every time he speaks he does us all a favor.

  26. 26
    David Marjanović

    So with the suffix that would be… kilople down?

    But duplicare is Latin, not Greek.

    Mille? Mil-?

  27. 27
    Nick Gotts

    A very good friend who is a Catholic recounts that as a girl growing up in San Francisco, her mother said about the priesthood “they’re just men.” – RFW@20

    Actually, most of them are unjust men!

  28. 28
    Mike

    Hitchens said if you gave Falwell an enema you could bury him in a matchbox. I say if it was Donohue, that matchbox would have room for Anne Widdecombe left over.

  29. 29
    Al Dente

    Rey Fox @23

    I’m even doubtful of how aware they are of how widespread the view of the Catholic Church as a kid-rape palace is.

    They know. Why else would a spokespriest periodically pop out of the Vatican to say: “It isn’t our fault, it’s the fault of Hollywood/modern sexual mores/Jews/Freemasons/the children themselves”?

  30. 30
    anteprepro

    They know. Why else would a spokespriest periodically pop out of the Vatican to say: “It isn’t our fault, it’s the fault of Hollywood/modern sexual mores/Jews/Freemasons/the children themselves”?

    And luckily the audience they really care about is credulous and overly reliant on church propaganda and spin. And several others will just be easily influenced by exerting a little ol’ religious privilege. The fact that they are punchline to a significant part of the population and yet still are going along their merry way, with flocks simply gritting their teeth…it really just is a clear illustration of the malign power that religion can have.

  31. 31
    amethal

    Presumably the next step is for St Paul police to be charged with wasting Church time.

  32. 32
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Why do they double down every time?

    Because it hasn’t really cost them. As an ex-Catholic, I know SO MANY Catholics who responded with shock and disgust when the full extent of the scandal became known… then proceeded to go to church on Sunday and give lots of money. Cause, y’know, it’s not MY priests doing it. So why should the church care when their parishioners clearly don’t?

  33. 33
    alwayscurious

    It doesn’t matter whether the charges are right or wrong at this time: it matters that they get investigated by the proper authorities in the proper manner. Exposing the victim without parental consent might be illegal for cases of this nature.

    On another note, the Catholic church has a terrible track record for handling these kinds of incidents (guilt notwithstanding) and is too rigid to institute basic changes necessary to reduce the probability of molestations. Protestant churches aren’t immune either, but the irregular, relatively fluid social structures makes them less habitable by child molesters (in general). Hierarchy, more strongly engrained, makes challenging priests socially less acceptable in the Catholic church.

    One well known example, Protestant churches are independent entities (rather than simply one property within the diocese) so suing the church could cause that individual church to go bankrupt. But an equivalent suit against a Catholic church requires actually suing the diocese (or archdiocese?) and are thus threatening an entire region. More potential loss = more motive to resist harder.

    There are plenty of horror stories to go around. But big institutions are under the limelight and thus more pressure to change in response to child abuse. People wouldn’t pick on the Catholic church so much if they were a tenth their size–you’d be hearing the stories about the Baptists or the Pentecostals instead. If the Catholic church had any sense, they’d reform their practices (similar to how the BSA have been doing so). They could eliminate one-on-one time with minors, train the clergy & regular volunteers about how to identify child abuse (in all its forms), emphasis the importance of reporting it to the police (instead of just to the priest), and discipline individuals who break these rules (even in the absence of abuse or the report of abuse). None of this requires them to break any major tradition or vital practice. Further, as the Boy Scouts of America will point out, instituting these policies won’t end the problem overnight–in addition to new violations (hopefully fewer in number), there will be future decades of victims coming forward who were hurt years earlier.

    tl;dr: Even if the Catholics eliminated child abuse overnight and not a single false claim were ever filed, they would still have 50 years of valid complaints on backlog to deal with. So stop complaining & start the real work of ending child abuse.

  34. 34
    LykeX

    It doesn’t matter whether the charges are right or wrong at this time: it matters that they get investigated by the proper authorities in the proper manner.

    Agreed. Even if the accusation is complete bogus with no foundation in reality, the church is still wrong for not cooperating with the investigation. If you or I were accused of a crime, we’d be expected to at least answer some questions. Why should clergy get different rules?

  35. 35
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Fabianocaccin/Fabian O’Caccin/Fabiano Caccin/Fabian O. C. Accin,* #24

    either clear his name or get a dangerous man out of their church

    I swear I read “out of their crotch”.

    the most wonderful mis-heard statement since I listened to Purple Haze and heard:

    Scuse me, while I kiss this guy!

    Doo-be-doo dow, dun-doe-do-dow

    *I list the above just because I so love the possibility of Fabian O’Caccin. I have no idea why.

  36. 36
    fabianocaccin

    @Crip Dike, Right etc., #35

    I list the above just because I so love the possibility of Fabian O’Caccin

    You made me imagine myself in a kilt and sporran
    Thank You very much.
    I was not very hungry anyway.

    Fabiano, Laird of Cacheen

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