Maureen Dowd on the Philadelphia scandal

by Joshua J. McElwee

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jmcelwee@ncronline.org

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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd weighed in on the sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia yesterday.

Here's a snippet:

Even with a global scandal that never seems to stop disgorging disgusting stories, the Philadelphia grand jury report is especially sordid.

It tells the story of a fifth-grade altar boy at St. Jerome School given the pseudonym Billy. Father Engelhardt plied him with sacramental wine and pulled pornographic magazines out of a bag in the sacristy and told the child it was time “to become a man,” the report says.

A week later, after Billy served an early Mass, the report states that Engelhardt instructed him to take off his clothes and perform oral sex on him. Then the priest told the boy he was “dismissed.”

“After that, Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt’s colleagues,” the report says. “Father Edward Avery undressed with the boy, told him that God loved him,” and then had him perform sex. “Next was the turn of Bernard Shero, a teacher in the school. Shero offered Billy a ride home but instead stopped at a park, told Billy they were ‘going to have some fun,’ took off the boy’s clothes, orally and anally raped him and then made him walk the rest of the way home.”

Billy fell apart and turned to heroin.

The report says Brennan knew Mark from the time he was 9. When he was 14, the priest arranged with Mark’s mother for a sleepover. “Brennan showed him pornographic pictures on his computer, bragged about his penis size and insisted that Mark sleep together with him in his bed.” Then the priest raped him as he cried, according to the report.

Mark also fell apart and attempted suicide.

Out of the church’s many unpleasant confrontations with modernity, this is the starkest. It’s tragically past time to send the message that priests can’t do anything they want and hide their sins behind special privilege.

In Seth Williams’s city, the law sees no collars, except the ones put on criminals.

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