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Eliot Spitzer and Abortion

Eliot SpitzerNew York state's Catholic bishops had a long-awaited appointment with Gov. Eliot Spitzer at the state Capitol in Albany on Monday at 3 p.m. to protest his pending abortion rights legislation. For some reason, it kept getting put off, and Cardinal Edward Egan and fellow bishops were left to wonder why. They were told at one point that the lieutenant-governor, David Paterson, would meet with them. But that failed to come through. They were finally able to deduce the problem after a New York Times report on the Web indicated that Spitzer was occupied with other worries.Spitzer's legislation would declare abortion a "fundamental right." The New York State Catholic Conference argues that state regulators could use such a "radical" law to coerce Catholic hospitals to provide abortions. Spitzer said that was an exaggeration, according to The Times. (The proposed statute contains language declaring that "the state shall not discriminate against the exercise of the rights" to abortion and contraception "in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information." What does that mean?)Spitzer is not one to walk away from a fight. New York is 39 percent Catholic, according to the recent Pew survey on the U.S. Religious Landscape. The only way Spitzer really can pass the abortion-rights bill is if the Democrats win long-sought control of the State Senate from Republicans. The Dems are within one seat of doing that, and controlling the Legislature. So Spitzer would make abortion a key issue in the state legislative campaign this fall.In nominating Spitzer for governor, New York Democrats had rejected Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who had gotten national attention for proposing ways to reduce the number of abortions. Will the next governor be more conciliatory on abortion than Spitzer has been?[Photo from www.newsday.com]

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Should we consider why the focus should be on this issue rather than the fact that New York is one of the few dioceses which has exercised minimal effort in bringing justice to victims of clergy abuse? The Republican Senate, pressured by the New York State Catholic conference has not even let out the Statute of Limitations bill out of committee. The bill was passed in the democratic assembly. Even Spitzer had not been helpful on this bill. I imagine he was picking his fight according to his constituents.BXVI is making a big splash in New York next months and he will be greeted by many victims of clergy abuse. While he has made some strong statements about abuse of children to counter criticism about his lack of concern, he still will be headlined by an Archbishop who thinks the people should not be given a financial accounting of their money, nor redress for their children who have been abused by his charges. When Benedict comes into town he should be made aware of his shortcomings in leadership. We might be careful about empty pageantry when justices is not served.

It would be pretty hard for him to be less conciliatory. The first thing Spitzer did as Attorney General was to try go close Crisis Pregnancy Centers. He is extremely public on his total pro-abortion support.

I won't comment on the abortion issue, but I do think that the Newsday photo makes clear that it is unwise to go before the press before putting your dentures in.

Joe:The dentures comment was perfect! If I were a teenaged texter I'd write LOL (for Laughing Out Loud)

How many times must it be said that nothing will be done on the abortion issue since Republicans only use it for political advantage and have NO interest in changing the law nor would they survive if they did?We can do something about Benedict and Egan. But this demands work Rather than show boating. Second, the Spitzer scandal should prompt us to focus on international sex trafficking which is a prodigious problem of female slavery to prostitution. Spitzer, ironically passed a law recently to put a stop to this and rightly prosecuted a queens prostitution ring. Girls are recruited from Thailand, the Philippines and other countries. The best remedy is to arrest the Johns as Spitzer legislated for New York. This is why Spitzer should be prosecuted. Out of his own law he can be judged.

Bill,Why in the world should the Spitzer scandal cause us to focus on either the sex-abuse scandal or international sex trafficking? Were any of the prostitutes from the Emperors Club abducted and forced into a life of prostitution?

Bill,"How many times must it be said that nothing will be done on the abortion issue since Republicans only use it for political advantage and have NO interest in changing the law nor would they survive if they did?"Well, you can say whatever you like--but just because you keep repeating a Big Lie does not make it true ... certainly there are some Republicans who do not really wish to overturn Roe V Wade, just as their are some Democrats who wish they didn't have to sound pro-choice ... but do not impugn the integrity of those of us who would gladly accept whatever electoral risks are involved in ending abortion. Indeed, it is the Democrats who mostly use abortion for political advantage--as Hillary recently proved in New Hampshire when she suggested that Obama was not strongly pro-choice enough, a factor that analysts attributed to her unexpected comeback.

I (as usual) have some questions:-Paul, if Spitzer had not been caught, would this thread have appeared?-It's widely banded about that Spitzer is out as of this morning. Is the point here that because of his pro-choice stance all of this is happening?-Shouldn't the question be is where is David Patterson going to stand? Is he Basil Patterson's son?As I recall, Basil was a hero to the black Catholic community at the now closed (sti;ll padlocked? being developed?) St. Thomas the A;ostle Church on W. 118 St. Is David catholic?Bill M. has a point. How effective has the NY Catholic Conference been vis a vis not only the Governor or the Legislature? The question is relevant because:-I seem to remember there was some previous dustup(s) between the Conferenc eand Albany;- I continue to beleive that folks look more at behavior than words in judging ansd Cardinal Egan (as we've had some threads here in the past year) has not always endeared himself to the Faithful.-John Carr of the US catholic Bishops Conference recently stated (as per John Allen) that the "seamless garment" argument fgor life is "not so seamless." I'd like to hear from Bill Colier in particular (who on one thread wrote very well on this) whether change is inded in the air, and how productive that change will be politically? What impact will it have on the next campaign?(Personally I think Cardinal Bernadin and Msgr. phil Murnion migh tbe rather unhappy at this continuing splintering of the life/justice groups in the Church.)Finally, NY awaits the visit of BXVI.Undoubtedly, he will say things at the UN that have some ramifications for peace.But will his visit bring peace to the faithful here or be another step towards the "purer" "remnant"?

Bill-The connection between Spitizer's problems and the church's sex abuse scandal is bizarre at best. Yes, the Church's leaders have a lot to answer for in regard to the abuse scandal. But legalized abortion is another moral problem (like sex-trafficking) and so deserves our time and attention. As regards getting rid of the Statue of Limitations, I think we should be very cautious about this. Legal limitations are in place because time tends to cloud people's memories and potential witnesses also tend to die as the years roll on. I am strong believer in the safeguarding the rights of the accused (clerical or otherwise), so we should be wary about opening windows so people can come forward to offer allegations about crimes decades old. In addition, I wonder how much the trial lawyers are pushing this. God knows they have made countless millions in the various settlements, and they see more millions more to be made if the statues were temporarily suspended

What we witnessed this AM with the resignation of Spitzer is an example of transparancy. Maybe our church leaders see and do likewise. three days not 25 years and still counting.

Just want to add that Ed is right: the now gone Spitzer affair shows once more that those claiming great probity may well have (as we all do) feet of clay.On another thread, a vatican official (Griotto) was asked about the sex abuse scandal while discusing the "new sins" the Vatican relweased. He stated the problem was the press for putting the Church up to shame and scandal.If we want to have a full Gospel of life preached, we need to ask forgiveness in a real way for our sins.We also ned pastors (and this goes all the way up the line) who give credibility - not division to that message.

Bob NunzDavid Patterson is Basil Pattersons son. I dont know if soon-to-be Governor Patterson is Catholic, but he is regarded as pro-choice by NARAL. During his 20 or so years in the NY legislature, he was known as a coalition builder among his colleagues, so its likely he wont be practicing the in your face style of politics that Spitzer relished. Interestingly, Spitzers arch-nemesis, Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, will, under NY law, also assume the duties and responsibilities of lieutenant-governor during Pattersons term nd assuming the Republicans maintain their razor-thin numerical advantage in the Senate.You also mentioned John Carr and his seamless garment comments to John Allen at last months Social Ministry Gathering of the USCCB. Carr, the USCCBs top social action official, made the pointa good one, I thinkthat Catholics are often politically homeless if they fully embrace CST: We dont fit with the right or the left, with Democrats or Republicans, said John Carr, who directs the office for Justice, Peace and Human Development. Referring to the annual Social Ministry Gathering, Carr said, I sometimes think of us as a self-help group for the politically incorrect, for people who insist on standing both with the unborn and the undocumented. Nevertheless, Carr said this morning, this makes it a great time to be a Catholic preacher, teacher or leader, because no one can accuse us of being shills for a partisan position.Carr, a veteran staffer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued that a genuinely Catholic approach to politics cannot cherry-pick or be selective.Catholic progressives ought to be measured by how they stand up for human life, he said, and Catholic conservatives by how they defend human dignity. The consistent ethic of life, Carr said, doesnt give any of us a free pass.The full text of Allens report about his discussion with Carr is here:http://ncrcafe.org/node/1626/printAs one who in this presidential election cycle does feel politically homeless, I appreciated Carrs comments about how the embracing and practicing of CST should be independent of partisan politics.

Bill, thanks for the update. Any ideas on the effectiveness of the Ny Catholic Conference and how big a role does someone like Cardinal Egan play, say, vis a vis the Bishop of Albany, who is there year round?

It is not the lawyers who put their private parts into little children. It is not the lawyers who sent predators out repeatedly to abuse children. It is not the lawyers but the Catholic conference which is funded and ruled by the bishops, which is fighting the statute of limitations in every state. We can do something about sex trafficking. Abortion is pure and simple a loud mouth exercise. Nothing is accomplished except the vain glory of those touting it. Working against sexual abuse takes hard work. Not loud mouth activity. The same is true of reforming the bishops. They have taken the church away from the people. Throughout the centuries they have used the arm of the state to perpetuate that. That is no longer possible. We can take back our church. We have to examine our conscences as to how we allow the bishops to ruin the church. Conservatives and liberals both know the bishops are corrupt but it takes courage, work and personal sacrifice to do this. Conservatives use the bishops for their own ends while liberals flatter themselves that they are doing something about reform.I do not impugn any-one's motives. I just point out that the abortion fight is basically a clamor issue which has gotten nothing done. And if by some miracle the Republicans overturned Roe Vs. Wade, they would have no party left. Period.

Bill-Wow! Talk about sweeping generalizations. Is there not one good bishop in America? (Of course according to how you define good.) I am not sure what to make of these sentences: Abortion is pure and simple a loud mouth exercise. Nothing is accomplished except the vain glory of those touting it. Working against sexual abuse takes hard work. Not loud mouth activity.What about the tens of thousands of lay people who work to end abortion? Are they simply pawns and puppets of the bishops? Or they simply engaging in an exercise of vain glory?And the holy lawyers you speak of? Maybe if the statues are suspended they can begin a new round of suing. Then tens of millions of more dollars can be given out (with 25-40% going to support these lawyers). Then dioceses can sell properties, inner-city schools can close, parishes can be assessed with additional taxes to pay for all this. Dioceses can close offices of immigration and cut back on Catholic Charities and faith-formation programs will end or be cut back from parish to parish. Will the bishops suffer? Not really. Who will suffer? Parishioners, the poor, children, the elderly. They will suffer. But the lawyers? They will be richly blessed.

Sorry, but several more comments1)I deeply disagree with Mr. Andreassi on SOL legislation and its impact. I suggest he read the coments about the abuse cris on threads here by carolyn Disco, a survivor advocate for VOTF, on what victims need.If the hierachy full yowned up to responsibility in this matter, we wouldn't need that debate.I thought the major point of this thread was how to effectively get the life message to New york State government. I'd note that the new governbor lists his four top priorities on the website for the Governor/Attorney General: viz. fight domestic violence, devlop renewable energy. obtain embryonic stem cell research and assist small business minority women.I would also not ehe's visually impaired and has a special affiliation for the blind.He and his family still reside in harlem.How wil the Church reach out to him and try to bring its values to bear ?

Anticipating B16's departure for Rome after his U.S. visit, I'm preparing my placard: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

Anthony, the bishops were originally pastors and they parlayed that into monarchs. That is all they should be. Synods, episcopal conferences, conclaves etc. are mere manifestation of power through which the Holy Spirit has mucho difficult entering. The last papacy took over the appt. of bishops entirely and made a royal mess. It is messier to have more people participate but we will have a better church. The bishops are more like the scribes and pharisees. Are there good bishops. Sure. We need pastors not people making monarchical visits.Most of the people working against abortion are organized by paid staff at chanceries. Nine out of ten visits from the chancery will be on right to life. Youth days are organized by paid staff who recruit volunteers and entice kids with trips abroad. You see how effective they are by the preponderance of vocations we get from them. And besides "ecclesia semper reformandi" the church must always reform itself. So what is the surprise.

Bob,I had already been thinking about posting on Spitzer's abortion legislation - ever since the Democrats moved within one seat of controlling the State Senate. But, yes, I posted Tuesday because I thought folks might be interested to know that all the Catholic bishops were on hand as events unfolded in Albany.When I was a newspaper reporter in Albany 20 years ago, the Catholic Conference was certainly a respected voice. I'm not close enough to say how it's viewed there now. But, certainly, Cardinal Egan has given a very low priority to representing Catholic positions in public policy debates.

"How many times must it be said that nothing will be done on the abortion issue since Republicans only use it for political advantage and have NO interest in changing the law nor would they survive if they did?""I do not impugn any-ones motives. I just point out that the abortion fight is basically a clamor issue which has gotten nothing done. And if by some miracle the Republicans overturned Roe Vs. Wade, they would have no party left. Period."I feel like I'm reading Abelard's Sic et Non.

"I feel like Im reading Abelards Sic et Non."Robert, thanks for the chuckle. I have spent a lot of time reading medieval scholars that it must have rubbed off. But I am flattered to be compared to Abelard, in whatever sense, since he was one of the few honest theologians in the history of the church. He pointed out before it became acceptable (only after Vatican II) that the saints and the fathers have made mistakes indeed. That champion of orthodoxy, Bernard of Clairvaux, battled Abelard. Bernard had orthodoxy on his side while Abelard had the truth. Their exchange is a good example of what every Catholic, especially every seminarian, goes through while examining certain doctrines. We see that the doctrine does not make sense but succumb to authority lest we be condemned or something like that.Abelard was unique for his age. If he were a heretic then we need more of them.

Bob-Thanks for the reading recommendation. I will check it out. Did you happen the read the piece in "Commonweal" from last year raising some legal serious questions about the massive financial settlements? I believe it was by the dean of Villanova's law school. Bill-Much of what you mention in your last post is worth thinking about and I believe you raise some valid points. Joseph-Comments like "Dont let the door hit you on the way out! lack charity and are not helpful toward creating civil discourse. Can't we raise the bar a bit here?Anthony

"Should we consider why the focus should be on this issue rather than the fact that New York is one of the few dioceses which has exercised minimal effort in bringing justice to victims of clergy abuse? The Republican Senate, pressured by the New York State Catholic conference has not even let out the Statute of Limitations bill out of committee. "That sounds rather like an exercise to preserve justice for those accused of sexual abuse, and to prevent the unjust enrichment of lawyers who represent victims of clergy abuse.

"That sounds rather like an exercise to preserve justice for those accused of sexual abuse, and to prevent the unjust enrichment of lawyers who represent victims of clergy abuse." Jim Pauwels,I am amazed that you are at this level of awareness when there is so much available for you to educate yourself on. There is like one in ten thousand who is falsely accused if that. What are you basing your conclusion on? Can you cite specific data the way Snap can and Bishop Accountability? Please review the following sites.http://www.snapnetwork.org/http://www.bishop-accountability.org/

It really is time to quit pandering to the Republican Party who betrays over and over again. We've sold ourselves out too many times doing it their way, and children are dying. Now, as mother theresa said, the fruit of abortion is nuclear war. we are RAPIDLY headed in that direction. http://mschaut.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/dreadful-fall-of-the-pro-life-mo...

"Most of the people working against abortion are organized by paid staff at chanceries. Nine out of ten visits from the chancery will be on right to life."Bill: Does your contempt for prolifers and prolife advocacy have no bounds? Is there no possibility that you can step away from the pain you've personally experienced from this issue and respect the views of those of us less sanguine about abortion than you are? The comment above is simply absurd and indefensible. I continue to wonder whether the pass you generally get on your disgust for prolifers and trivialization of abortion in these comboxes is simply patronizing...'there he goes again'...or indicative of a shared disgust for prolife sensibilities.

While New York politics are far from my domain, and though I certainly have read depositions by Egan when he was in Bridgeport, and enjoyed David Gibsons fine article on his reign (deliberate word choice) in New York, the whole question of the bishops influence there or elsewhere is an interesting one. Catholic Conferences in Colorado and Maryland have been hugely successful in beating back statutes of limitation reforms, and I suspect in other states they hold fairly powerful sway. From my point of view, it is thankfully less influential than in decades past when for example in MA it was enough for William OConnell to simply indicate his wishes and it was done. How much power should they have? Frankly, too much of it makes me nervous. All depends on ones position at hand. Credibility is a fragile commodity, and bishops have squandered theirs mightily.I cant resist adding to Bob Nunzs post (March 12th, 2008 at 11:12 am), when he spoke of Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, a Franciscan, who spoke of sins newly-identifed by the Vatican. The near derision I find that greets such pronouncements is a sign of fractured prestige well earned by their own hand. Just for the record, Girotti was one of Ratzingers three secretaries at the CDF who, with others, was indifferent and I maintain unbelievably cruel to the Maciel victims; Maciel, being the founder of the Legion of Christ. Read Vows of Silence by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, who recount comments from Vatican sources like better for eight innocent men to suffer than thousands of people losing their faith, and whether it was prudent, and how delicate a matter to prosecute someone who garnered so many seminarians. Where the truth and merits of a case become irrelevant for tens of years, I welcome a voice reduced in impact. Its the only consequence available for unaccountable prelates. My charity is strained here, and I am not sure what to do about that. More examples of spin, evasion, denial, obfuscation and downright lies are contained in a release I did for a press conference last week with our current and former attorneys general, honoring them with Truth and Justice awards. See http://snapnetwork.org/030708_truth_and_justice_awards_new_hampshire.html This research may not be worth much, but it seems important to witness somehow to the real as it exists in God, to paraphrase Bonhoeffer.I yearn for those who preach truth to practice it. While one does not have to be perfect to proclaim the Gospel, honesty helps if you want to be listened to seriously. We do need moral voices, not compromised substitutes.

Footnote about Catholic Charities funding: 65% (national) - 68% (NH) of their revenues comes from the government.http://community.catholiccharitiesusa.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=363 Government Revenue 65%Diocesan and Church Community Support 4% (in NH, this does not even make the pie chart)United Way 11% and CFC 3%Investments, Business, Other 1%In-Kind Contributions 5%Program Fees 11%As to the financial impact of settlements, many diocses make a point of indicating that payments do not come from parish funds. And often, financial pressures predate the scandal's exposure. There is no denying an impact though, and I do not see why that is unjust.I have written before in this regard:Understand, survivors seek justice in the courts because the criminal statutes of limitation have run out. Filing a civil lawsuit is the only way to publicly identify their abusers, and learn the truth about what bishops knew, when the basis of a just outcome, and of preventing future abuse. And, yes, compensation is long overdue.But bishops have a precious opportunity here to reconcile with survivors. Instead, prelates often leave them bleeding, as they hand out checks. Survivors appreciate when it does not take the immediate threat and I mean a day or so of bishops being cross-examined in open court, before settlements are concluded. The impression, valid or not, is unavoidable: pay whatever is necessary to keep bishops off the stand and hide evidence. The many millions dioceses can really find when cornered reinforce this judgment. Far better to follow the Gospel willingly, not under the legal gun. What is the profit really in putting survivors through the judicial meat grinder for four, five, or even 10 years as in Providence? Bishops can and should grant some measure of justice before their last legal maneuver expires. Settlements will be paid in the end anyhow. As to concerns about financial impact, sin and crime have consequences, and we all as the Body of Christ share in them. Jesus rejected notions like its not my fault, and so should we. Child sex abuse survivors stand as victims of the Church herself, and as such, have a special claim on our conscience. Lets pay the price in justice, not in charity, and then move on together with heads held high.

"Bill: Does your contempt for prolifers and prolife advocacy have no bounds? Is there no possibility that you can step away from the pain youve personally experienced from this issue "Mike, such a statement is so misleading. My personal experience. let me clarify, is receiving a directive at my parish from the diocesan office to campaign against pro abortion legislation in the late 60's in New York. What bothered me is that they did not have the same passion for other important items of the gospel.Contempt and loathing are not the right words though I am fiercely critical of the pro life movement. I am convinced that many good people are caught in that mix. Many people I know personally, and are dear to me, have been ensnared by this dictate of the hierarchy. I have gently, and sometimes not so gently confronted them. They need to think about it more. A blogger above quotes abortion as a prelude to nuclear war. Saints make mistakes. Repeat.Abortion is the other end of the sexual errancy of the church. Which has been very wrong on marriage, on birth control and on divorce.If you want a cause. Work on the bishops to be pastors and not Lords. Go look at the titles they give themselves and show me one justification in the NT or St. Paul.

Bill: I'm asking you to step away from your own wounds and strike a more sensitive and respectful note on this topic. In fact, contempt and loathing are precisely what you display. Prolife rhetorical excesses in no way justify your own. We don't seek your approval of the causes we champion and we certainly don't accept your version of the appropriate cause constellations, what with prochoice advocacy on the side of the angels and prolife advocacy beneath contempt. There are some of us for whom the consistent ethic of life is foundational. We are culturally homeless and regularly derided in the progressive precints we generally inhabit. I imagine I am not alone in seeking respect but not support in these settings.Barak Obama, whose prochoice bona fides are unassailable, made the point much better than I can in a speech he gave some years ago (and reprised in Audacity of Hope):"A few days after I won the Democratic nomination in my U.S. Senate race, I received an email from a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical School . . . [T]he reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my website, which suggested that I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor went on to write:"I sense that you have a strong sense of justice...and I also sense that you are a fair minded person with a high regard for reason...Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded....You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others...I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."Fair-minded words.So I looked at my website and found the offending words. In fairness to them, my staff had written them using standard Democratic boilerplate language to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade. Re-reading the doctor's letter, though, I felt a pang of shame."As recently as the editorial in current issue, Commonweal has warmly embraced the seamless garment. I asked in a thread some weeks ago why such sensibilities are so rarely expressed at dotCommonweal. Late the thread, my question was unanswered. I ask again.

Mike,I have never been against the seamless garment approach and I hold life sacred at all levels. Although, I do not believe a human person exists in the embryo I do not favor arbitrarily terminating pregnancy even in the early stages. If a person makes a considered decision to terminate I believe that this is not wrong nor sinful. Yet I support more preventive ways rather than abortion.So I am for the seamless approach. What I object to is the over the top stress the abortion issue is given by the hierarchy and certain ideologues within the church. So if I have offended you I am truly sorry. I applaud your seamless garment approach.In my usual conversation on this matter I am not addressing people like you. I see your point and will welcome more feedback from you as to how to more effectively strike a balance.

Carolyn-I highly recommend Mark Sargent's piece in "Commonweal" from Apri 20, 2007.Here are two salient selections from it:To be sure, some of the larger, older urban parishes have abandoned or underused facilities that can be sold. Some can unload a few grand buildings such as the cardinal's residence in Boston. Most dioceses do have some insurance available to help meet the settlements. But to assume that all dioceses will just be carving off fat, and not slicing into bone and muscle, violates common sense. In some cases insurance carriers will resist paying the full value of the policy, particularly when the dioceses are agreeing to compensate claimants whose suits are actually time-barred by the statute of limitations, minimally supported by admissible evidence, or based on questionable legal theories of supervisory failure, conspiracy, or vicarious liability. The reduced availability of insurable coverage will throw a greater weight on the diocese.Who, then, will pay? Not the molesters, not the long-dead or retired bishops and chancery officials who enabled them, and not even the superiors who are still in office. The bill will be paid by closing and selling off older, marginal parishes that can barely support themselves in the inner cities and poor rural areas. It will be paid by closing Catholic schools already stressed by the increasing cost of providing private education, particularly to the poor. As usual, the poor will pay, but they won't be the only ones.and Our self-righteousness makes us impatient with the law. The law's careful balancing of rights and interests, its goal of evenhandedness, and its insistence on due process seem to be pettifoggery, mere "technicalities," and an obstacle to achieving the justice we know in our hearts. This impatience with the law, however, can lead to injustice. It is very hard to criticize the survivors of clergy abuse and their advocates. The survivors were indeed victims, not just of the molesters, but of the bishops and officials who ignored and deceived them, who covered up the problem and enabled further abuse. They have had to struggle bitterly to get any recognition or compensation. But their innocence cannot justify everything that survivors and advocates choose to do.

Anthony, Most of us have read and discussed Sargent's article previously - I myself had a letter objecting to it, and, of course he responded.I think Ms. Disco has cobered the critical points here. I'd just add that you should look at the Dallas Morning News article scoring numerous Bishops for the worst kinds of coverups -with almost no accountability.If we want the message of the Gospel to be beleivable, we hav eto be credible ourselves!

Bill: Thanks for your gracious reply.All: I put my previous question to you again...and I promise this will be the last time. I'll take *no* answer as *the* answer if it comes to that."As recently as the editorial in current issue, Commonweal has warmly embraced the seamless garment. I asked in a thread some weeks ago why such sensibilities are so rarely expressed at dotCommonweal. Late to the thread, my question was unanswered. I ask again."

"Understand, survivors seek justice in the courts because the criminal statutes of limitation have run out. Filing a civil lawsuit is the only way to publicly identify their abusers, and learn the truth about what bishops knew, when the basis of a just outcome, and of preventing future abuse. And, yes, compensation is long overdue."But bishops have a precious opportunity here to reconcile with survivors. Instead, prelates often leave them bleeding, as they hand out checks. Survivors appreciate when it does not take the immediate threat and I mean a day or so of bishops being cross-examined in open court, before settlements are concluded. The impression, valid or not, is unavoidable: pay whatever is necessary to keep bishops off the stand and hide evidence. The many millions dioceses can really find when cornered reinforce this judgment. "Hi, Carolyn, I appreciate your charity in this, and there is much hard wisdom in your words.Here's where I get hung up, though:* As an impartial observer, istm that, as soon as the victim hires an attorney - particularly an attorney who has built a practice around suing the church, embarrassing its prelates, and collecting huge sums in settlements - the possibility for reconciliation effectively has ended. At that point, it necessarily becomes a legalcontest between two antagonists, and a trial or out-of-court settlement are virtually the only possible outcomes.* How much money does it cost for a victim of sexual abuse to heal? Is $500,000 enough? Is there healing and reconciliation available for $1 million that half of that can't purchase? What peace and capacity for forgiveness may the victim buy for $2 million that she couldn't afford for $1 million? By the same token - does $1 million of a diocese's money penalize a criminal bishop or employee more than $500,000 of the diocese's money, and less than $2 million of the diocese's money?Certainly no desire to whitewash the church in any of this. Evil men committed sins and crimes, and in some cases were abetted by other sinners/criminals of greater authority.It just seems to me that the path that we as a society have chosen to try to right these wrongs is a path that has led us to a place that may not be even on the same map as justice.I wish I knew a way for all the parties to change course.

"That sounds rather like an exercise to preserve justice for those accused of sexual abuse, and to prevent the unjust enrichment of lawyers who represent victims of clergy abuse. Jim Pauwels,"I am amazed that you are at this level of awareness when there is so much available for you to educate yourself on. There is like one in ten thousand who is falsely accused if that. What are you basing your conclusion on? Can you cite specific data the way Snap can and Bishop Accountability?"Hi, Bill,I said nothing about false accusations. I'm aware that the incidence of false accusations is thought to be exceedingly low, and I accept, with sadness and anger, that in most (but not all) cases, there is a basis for an accusation.Two wrongs don't make a right, though. Statutes of limitations are in place to ensure justice. Those accused of crimes also have rights - in fact, there is to be a presumption of innocence. Such a presumption is difficult indeed to maintain when we are filled with revulsion at the alleged misdeeds of one who should be holding himself to the highest possible standard of ethical behavior.Suspending or revoking the statute of limitations may satisfy some folks' desire to punish the church - as though the church, rather than sinful and criminal individuals, were guilty of the commission of these crimes. As Christians, we should resist these urges for vengeance, especially when it compromises our system of justice.

"All: I put my previous question to you againand I promise this will be the last time. Ill take *no* answer as *the* answer if it comes to that."As recently as the editorial in current issue, Commonweal has warmly embraced the seamless garment. I asked in a thread some weeks ago why such sensibilities are so rarely expressed at dotCommonweal. Late to the thread, my question was unanswered. I ask again."You won't take "no" from me, Mike ... it doesn't sound like a "yes or no" question :-). I'd be the last to speak for everyone at DotCommonweal, but speaking for myself, I do my best to embrace the seamless garment, and to order my life in accordance with the Gospel of Life.That so many folks here support Hillary or Barack is a source of great dissonance to me.

Mike McG...--Just so you're not feeling all alone, I'm a strong supporter of the consistent ethic of life/seamless garment, and I've said so here. So have others. There are even some who have written me off line and expressed their admiration for the consistent ethic of life and the fullness of meaning it gives to the term pro-life. Grounded in CST, and not beholden to politics, the consistent ethic of life seems so simple yet so comprehensive and logical to me, and a touchstone for the way we should be interacting with everyone and everything around us on a daily basis.