Five days after the 300-member U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops refused to adopt full zero tolerance regarding the horror of priestly child rape, there came what was called for centuries ago by the Prophet Amos:

“Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream!”

On that very same day:

  • The Associated Press reported “A grand jury in Boston is looking into whether criminal charges can be brought against Cardinal Bernard Law, in his allowing priests accused of molesting children to remain in positions where they could molest youngsters.”

  • The Washington Post reported from New York that a Westchester County grand jury had issued a report accusing officials of the Archdiocese of New York of “recklessly covering up child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests and humiliating and smearing the victims and their families.”

  • The Los Angeles Daily News reported “61 current or former priests face investigation by the Los Angeles police department and the sheriff’s department, after 115 people filed complaints alleging they were sexually abused as youths … Special teams of investigators (have been) assigned exclusively to the widening sex abuse scandal involving Los Angeles Archdiocese clergy members.”

That all of this came on the same day – 5 days after the bishop’s conference in Dallas – at least suggests that these law enforcement groups were waiting to see if the bishops would completely police themselves.

It is most important to remember that law enforcement has large numbers of devout and decent Catholic laymen – who are as moral as the vast majority of clergy and laity of this our nation’s largest religious denomination.

They, too, heard the magnificent call to full repentance by the first black president of the U.S. Conference, Bishop Wilmot Gregory of Illinois.

But instead of passing fully “zero tolerance” of priest sodomists and child abusers, the bishops spent an entire day debating – and then failed to pass defrocking of long-ago priest pedophiles.

They also did nothing about any bishop, archbishop or cardinal who has passed known pedophile priests from parish to parish in what is surely an accomplice to the crime – of which Jesus Christ said: “It were better for him that a millstone be tied around his neck and that he be cast into the uttermost depths of the sea.”

Another serious problem the bishops failed to correct is the badly needed retirement of their conference’s communications director, Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, who banned reporters from the Boston Globe from joining 750 reporters who covered their conference. (The Globe led the nation in exposing the wave of priestly pedophilia.).

Msgr. Maniscalco, a huge man from Long Island, treats media people as if he is a Marine Corps drill instructor addressing the boots. I have seen Maniscalco presiding over a panel of bishops meeting the media, where he heard a reporter’s question and interrupted with a rebuke before the bishop could respond.

The bishops have enough trouble without such monsignoral manipulation.

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