Philadelphia’s shame

I lived in Philadelphia for seven years — it’s a great city, and it’s also an amazing ethnic patchwork. The residents are proud of the fact that the city’s neighborhoods have so much character, although it also means that there is a bit more racial tension lurking in the city, and there are also extremes of poverty and wealth. One other thing you notice living there is that some neighborhoods are extraordinarily Catholic, and that Catholicism just soaks into the area.

I imagine that there’s some deep anxiety in those neighborhoods right now: the Catholic church has just announced the suspension of 21 priests in Philly on suspicion of child sex abuse. And this is after several had been indicted on charges of rape and assault on minors.

A list has been released. I didn’t know any of the priests, of course — I recognize some of the churches, but I’d never have so much as stepped inside one. The Glenside church was right near where I lived while I was there.

Unfortunately, I’ve also heard from a few correspondents in Philadelphia who report that there’s a kind of studied blindness going on.

I don’t know why I am surprised but all the presiding priest said was
that they diocese would have a steady rotation of priests to fill in
untill a replacement is named. NOT ONE MINUTE was spent addressing the
issue. He only asked to pray for everyone involved… I was offended
for anyone hurt by what these guys did. He didn’t even take the time
to denounce the alleged actions… He didn’t mention how future kids
would be safe guarded, he did mention that the church has come a long
way in the process of their investigations.

Apparently, the church is treating this as a minor problem in staffing church functions instead of a sign of corruption and failure. I guess that’s typical.

It’s good that the church is actually doing something to remove child-rapists, but shouldn’t it be regarded as more profoundly systematic problem when you find scores of abusers working in your organization? This isn’t just one aberrant perv, it’s endemic!