Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bishop Malone's sermon for child sex abuse victims was all hot air


OPINION by Paul Kendrick

Bishop Malone's "Healing Mass" sermon for abuse victims and survivors was just more hot air.

It was all "holy talk," no substance.

Malone must stop playing his silly games and start acting like an adult who, when it comes to the issue of child protection, sees himself as a concerned community member.

1) In his homily, Malone said that he is "scandalized" by recent reports of sexual abuse by clergy and consecrated religious in Europe.

Malone neglected to say that when he was an Auxilliary bishop in Boston, he had at least three child abuser priests secretly working for him in parishes. In addition, Rev. Paul Miceli (Malone's best friend and Cape Cod housemate), helped transfer abuser priests from parish to parish when he served as Cardinal Law's Secretary of Ministerial Personnel.

2) In his homily, Malone said that he finds himself "sick with anger and grief and almost desperation as he sees news report after report detailing the devastation caused for so many children."

If he's so concerned about protecting children from harm, why didn't Malone warn Falmouth police and school officials when one of his employees, an admitted child molester priest (Rev. John Audibert), moved into a Falmouth neighborhood?

3) In his homily, Malone blames the sexual abuse of children on ministers of the Church, ordained priests, consecrated religious and lay Church members for the harms inflicted upon children as a result of their sexual abuse.

Conveniently, Malone failed to address the role of senior church leaders and bishops (like himself) for protecting offenders and transferring abuser priests from parish to parish.

March 23, 2010 - Portland Press Herald Editorial - Sex Offender Registry

Our View: Arrest points to flawsin sex offender registry

Even after court rulings and legislative tweaks, the registry is not striking the right balance.

If there ever was a government program in need of an overhaul, it's Maine's online sex offender registry. Flawed from its inception, the online registry has suffered from providing not enough information to be really valuable while at the same time offering too much.

Its scope was too broad, providing names and perpetually updated addresses of people convicted of crimes that may or may not suggest that they are likely to re-offend. At the same time, the registry lacks the kind of detail about the underlying offenses that would really be helpful for community members who are judging the risk posed by a neighbor on the list.

The system was shaken by a state supreme court decision two years ago, which found that the registry amounted to a kind of double punishment. That led lawmakers to amend the law to create a way to get off the list for people who were retroactively added to the registry when it was created and have had clean records since.

One of the 304 people who have been removed from the list, Larry L. Smart, was arrested last week for possessing child pornography, leading to more calls for revising the registry. Two bills introduced this session that would further tweak the registry appear to be headed nowhere as the Legislature winds toward adjournment.When they next try to tackle this mess, lawmakers should keep a few points in mind.

The purpose of the registry is to give people information they can use to protect themselves. And when it comes to information, too much can be as bad as too little. A man who dated a 13-year-old girl when he turned 18, 20 years ago, may be a registered sex offender. Neighbors who know just what's on the list could fail to protect themselves from other, more immediate threats.
No system is going to be perfect. There is no exact science to predict who is going to commit new offenses. Some classes of sex offenders, such as fixated pedophiles, call for special attention, but others will slip through any warning system.

Programs that have proven to be effective, such as extended periods of probation, monitoring and mandatory treatment, should be the first line of defense for a community looking to defend itself from a repeat offense by a sex offender. A registry of the most dangerous offenders, especially if it reveals characteristics such as the age and sex of the victim, and his or her relationship to the perpetrator, can also serve an important public safety function.

The current registry is not there yet.

A daughter's mother won't help protect children

For immediate release:
Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Letter

Sue Bernard
Director of Public Relations
Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Ms. Bernard,

In a press release issued on Saturday, I asked Bishop Richard Malone to start acting like a real grownup. I asked him to become a responsible member of the community regarding the issue of child protection.

And now I am asking you to start acting like a mother who cares about protecting, not only her own child, but children everywhere, from cunning and manipulative child molesters.

Point number one. Providing full disclosure of all priest sex abuse cases in Maine on the diocese web site will help protect children, Ms. Bernard. It's that simple.

Point number two. Publishing such a database will also help unknown, heretofore silent, shame and guilt ridden child abuse victims realize for the first time that they aren't alone. Perhaps, for the very first time they will seek help.

And so, Ms. Bernard, it's way past time for you to start behaving in a mature and credible manner about the protection of children. For almost eight years now, you have been part of the problem. It's time for you to start being part of the solution.

In addition to your professional responsibilities, you are the mother of a teenage daughter. What do you suppose the parents of your daughter's friends would say to you if one of their children was raped by a molester priest like Father John Audibert and they knew you didn't tell anyone in the neighborhood that Audibert is a child molester?

Audibert lives in a Falmouth neighborhood that's full of kids and young people. You appear satisfied that children are safe because Audibert's crime has been made public.

C'mon, Ms. Bernard, no one in that Falmouth neighborhood knows that the man living there with his brother is named John Audibert. For God's sake, no one even knows what Audibert looks like. You diminish your credibility when you keep saying that Malone is protecting kids from Audibert because Audibert's name was once made public. Can you identify every public figure you've ever heard or read about? Of course not. You're being silly again.

And now we know that neither you, Bishop Malone, nor any other diocese official contacted Falmouth police or school officials in an effort to warn the community about Audibert's presence in Falmouth. By not saying or doing anything, Ms. Bernard, you made a conscious decision to allow other people's kids to be at risk of child sex abuse.

Which begs the question. If Audibert lived in your neighborhood, would you warn your own daughter?

How many more "Audibert's" do you know about who are living anonymously in other communities, Ms. Bernard? How many more children are in danger?

I urge you to reflect upon my words. Please realize that by virtue of your silence you are complicit when a child is abused and you could have done something to stop it.

You may have long ago found a way to compartmentalize your behavior like so many other church workers, Ms. Bernard, but the simple truth about your not warning neighbors in Falmouth about a dangerous child molester like Audibert is sufficient evidence to determine that you are more than willing to put other people's children in harm's way in order to protect your own interests.

Perhaps, Ms. Bernard, you would agree to meet with me. My words are not intended to be construed or measured in any other manner than that of an individual who is serious about and committed to protecting children.If you disagree with my assessment of your words and deeds, then please, do not run to your attorney but, instead, issue a cogent and principled response as to why you find it morally and ethically acceptable to neglect the safety of children.

Paul Kendrick
207 838 1319