Catholic Officials Article Doesn’t Resolve Issue

September 21, 2018

Editor: Your Sept. 5 article about wayward clergy and the silence of Catholic officials raises the issue of culpability — but does not resolve it. Some will apply the Nuremberg trials’ dogma about the absolute obligation to refuse to obey any immoral command. However, as related about Joseph Bambera before he became a bishop, there was never a doubt that “Father Ned” was to be removed from pastoral ministry — that was done — the question was what to do with him afterwards. The policy of Bishop Timlin was 1) not to inform police 2) send the cleric to a treatment facility 3) reassign the cleric, once “rehabilitated.” Bambera as vicar of clergy had to follow that policy. Note that: number one — not all domestic abuse or use of opioids are reported to police today, inasmuch as families often prefer to address things “in-house.” Back in 1995, wayward priests were considered “sinners” or “sick” more than “criminals”, hence number two. Bambera said under oath, “...I could have done more” — which implies he did something. Sadly, even resigning over number three would not have changed policy then, although these steps have now been totally rejected . None of this lessens the heinous crime or repairs the injury done, but there is a human urge to affix blame on those who knew about the evil. We certainly would not hold the abused children culpable for silence towards parents or authorities, which means we turn to people who learned of abuse after the fact, although they are only indirectly involved. Does legal punishment of Bishop Bambera’s indirect culpability serve the common good? No doubt, some will say “Yes,” and others “No.” But since the bishop is a man of faith, the greatest punishment may be the enduring guilt he already bears on his conscience. Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo EAST STROUDSBURG

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