April 10, 2005

Shortage of priests breeds abuse

Baltimore Sun

Dan Rodricks

I ATTENDED Easter Sunday Mass in a small-town Roman Catholic church. The celebrant was an elderly, jolly priest who had come out of retirement to fill in for the elderly, sickly priest who usually serves the parish. The weekly bulletin reported a "serious priest shortage" and mentioned that a "Tanzanian connection for extra priestly help" had been established.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It just struck me as quaint, odd and ironic that, all these years after Anglican and Catholic missionaries went to Tanganyika and Zanzibar to bring Christendom to the Swahili-speaking natives, here was an American church in a white-picket-fence town looking to an evangelized Africa for ... a missionary! ...

If the American Catholic voice registered at all in the Vatican, Bernard Law would not be celebrating one of the mourning Masses for the Pope this week.

Law was one of the men who protected abusive clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston. He was forced to resign in disgrace two years ago, amid criticism that he had failed to remove abusive priests from ministry and even commended some while knowing they had been accused of molesting children.

Law left Boston and lived for a year at the Sisters of Mercy of Alma convent in Maryland. Then he got a position at the Vatican. He has been given the honor of presiding over a Mass for John Paul during the nine-day mourning period for the pope. Law also will have a say in the selection of the next pontiff.

So will the leader of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga.

He's had a brush with clergy sexual abuse, too. According to a 2004 report in The Dallas Morning News, the Honduran cardinal sheltered a Costa Rican priest who had admitted molesting a 10-year-old altar boy and who was a fugitive from his native country for a few years. Maradiaga gave the priest assignments in two Honduran villages in 2003, the News reported. The priest fled the country in early 2004.

Posted by kshaw at April 10, 2005 09:16 AM