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Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/contact:larchstar@aol.com

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

December 12, 2008

A BAND OF BROTHERS?

I spent a happy Thanksgiving weekend with my brother, his wife, and family in Alexandria , Virginia. That Sunday saw us at the local Church of the Good Shepherd, where a vibrant liturgy featured participation of the people as Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, and welcoming ushers. A well-prepared homily gave the congregation a sense of satisfaction at where they were and a challenge as to the direction for their journey. The weekly bulletin showed a panoply of educational and social action programs. An example of where our Church is strongest.

But we do have problems. Last Saturday, a Mamaroneck priest, was picked up by the police on an allegation by an adult woman about his sexual improprieties with her four years ago! He was being held without bail. The local newspaper offered, as many do, its readers the opportunity to make their comments on line. Our bishops would do well to examine comments on such articles. Instead of the echo chambers of congratualtions they so frequently hear from higher authorities and the faithful, they would be startled to find evidence of deep animosity to them and to our Church by actions they took or failed to take. Several comments in this case accused the bishops, quite unfairly, of inadequate supervision. These comments may well have been stirred by remembrance of how so many bishops in the past secretly reassigned abusers. But that hostility was exponentially multiplied when Pope John Paul II assigned Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, the poster boy of reassigning abusers, to a prestigious church in Rome with a six figure salary. Did anyone dare to tell the Pope what a disastrous mistake that was?That damaging public relations gaffe will never be forgotten. There was never any effort to correct it. The "group think"of clericalism has approved it once and for all!

Similar gaffes continue. The common feeling voiced among our New York priests is that once a sexual allegation is made against you, you are dead! The case of Msgr. Charles Kavanagh is on all our minds. Six and a half years -procedures in New York, trials in Rome and in the Erie diocese! No decision? Let it be swallowed up in time, an old Roman stratagem! What about the old maxim: justice delayed is justice denied? The presumption of innocence is gone as far as church authorities are frequently acting. Take the Mamaroneck case. The priest is jailed, after a woman's allegation made four years after the alleged event! Okay. Maybe there's something we don't know about. But four years after? Then the spokesman for the archdiocese and the spokesman for the Salesian order disown the man! He is not one of us! What happened to the fraternity of the priesthood? What happened to the band of brothers? What is the relationship of bishop and priest? We quickly recall mobsters at arraignment. Well-tailored lawyers stand by them. They are off and away in ten minutes!
Last Thursday, I was at lunch with the Larchmont Lions Club. They were discussing the nearby Mamaroneck case. The one non-Catholic among the eight members present was saying how appalled he was that the archdiocese and his order had disowned him. I had already arranged to visit the priest that afternoon. When I arrived at the County Jail at Valhalla, I was met by the Catholic chaplain, who has been most supportive, and the warden. Both expressed their dismay at how the priest had been disowned by church authorities. He was given a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society. At his bail hearing on December 11, he was given a court-appointed attorney. Bail was set at $50,000. His pastor, Msgr. Jim Healy, and the prison chaplain, have been working to get him his own attorney. Both have been very supportive. Say a prayer for Father Richard Ordonez, one of our brother priests.

2 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

I agree with you article about the accused abuse by this priest.I just hate it when the "victim" makes a claim many years later. I think they are all after the church for any money they could get. I think this is disgusting and they should be put on trial.You are also correct about when a priest is accused, especially when he is totally innocent. After the accusation, he is totally ruined,no matter what. It makes me very mad.Don't get me wrong,if a priest is guilty then he should get his punishment but if he is innocent then that should also be printed and he should receive an apology from all involved. Thank you..Joe

December 13, 2008 at 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally know the woman who made the accusation against him and she should be the one in trial by her constant harassment to Fr. Richard. We should all pray for his freedom.

May 6, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

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