The Divine Sociopath

Why isn't Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien in jail? There are far too many who have left the church because of his bad behavior.

"Now we don't go to church," said Kulina. "We're not in it, and we don't. We aren't."

While an admirer of Bishop O'Brien, Kim Sue Lia Perkes said her faith was tested during the pedophilia ordeal.

"The people around the bishop screwed with my faith," said Perkes. "Being a Catholic is an identity, as well as a faith. It cuts to the essence of who I am. I remember the nun who taught me, don't be afraid to stand alone. In the diocese, I always felt I was standing alone.





*Author's note: I may be sick, but I am not ill. None of us here at New Times could imagine anything worse than a bedside visit from the prelate without a personality, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien; so we decided to imagine it in words.
Mark Poutenis

*Author's note: I may be sick, but I am not ill. None of us here at New Times could imagine anything worse than a bedside visit from the prelate without a personality, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien; so we decided to imagine it in words.

In the courtroom: Bishop O'Brien flanked by defense 
attorneys Patrick McGroder and Melissa Berren.
Christine Keith
In the courtroom: Bishop O'Brien flanked by defense attorneys Patrick McGroder and Melissa Berren.

"I want my church to be a safe place for kids and a caring and compassionate church," said Perkes.

Too often the church wasn't.

According to Perkes, the priest in charge of counseling for abuse victims was callous about their emotional suffering.

"I remember Father Mike Dishkin saying, 'At some point, these people have to quit their whining and get on with their lives.'"

Perkes claimed that Father Dishkin believed the victims had a host of problems, other issues that preceded their molestations. His position was, the church shouldn't have to pay for all of that counseling.

"This one was really hard on me," recalled Perkes. "I wanted to open things up. I wanted to be decent to the victims.

"I talked to victims, which made his advisers very mad," said Perkes. "I wanted to scrutinize priests' records and clean house. I didn't understand why priests were fighting to keep from going through records and identifying bad priests. I mean, I got an earful."

Perkes said O'Brien is the best boss she ever worked for, but the portrait of his leadership only reinforced grave doubts: The church protected the worst of its priests, it cared little about victims, it fled from reform.

No one understands this better than Cindi Nannetti, head of the sex crimes unit in the County Attorney's Office. Her department oversaw the child-abuse investigation.

She lost her faith as a direct result of what she learned in this investigation.

Nannetti does not yield to clich. She pointed out that there is a greater percentage of heterosexual pedophiles than homosexual pedophiles. But she also noted that there is an abnormal level of deviant behavior that is not being addressed in the church.

"There is a lot of sexual abuse and violence in the seminaries," said Nannetti. "People go into the seminaries denying their sexuality. Later, they discover they can have free access to young boys and the unlimited trust of parents. It was absolutely easy for them."

The philosopher Hannah Arendt, perhaps the century's most insightful critic of moral failure, taught the lesson of the "banality of evil" when writing about Adolf Eichmann. In a later essay, The Deputy -- Guilt by Silence, she tackled Pope Pius XII, the cleric who sat impassively as the Holocaust unwound around him. Her description of the pope could be a description of our bishop: "such outrageous inadequacy" and a "disastrous loss of all feeling for reality."

It is little wonder that some have lost their faith.

"I'm still not going to church," said Nannetti. "I'd feel like a hypocrite. I am disgusted that my parents are raising money for the church."

For many, there is little sense of penance in the bishop's sentence for the hit-and-run.

Bishop O'Brien's sentence for fleeing the scene where he'd left a man dead in the street after running over him is grotesque. His punishment requires only that O'Brien behave in the future like a priest, that for 1,000 hours he will counsel and comfort the terminally ill.

He will be required to do that which he should have been doing all along.

In prison, they kill child molesters. In Judge Stephen A. Gerst's court, they forgive them.

It is enough to turn even the devout from the church, but perhaps not from God.

On Easter Sunday, I attended service at St. Simon and Jude, the cathedral where Bishop O'Brien regularly presided. His former press liaison, Perkes, suggested I might enjoy the choir at St. Simon.

The cathedral walls contain two plaques. One commemorates the visit of our homophobic pope, John Paul II, at St. Simon and Jude on September 14, 1987. The other bronze memorial honors Mother Teresa's visit on February 2, 1989. She is the beatified nun of the poor who wrote the courts a letter vouching for convicted swindler and Catholic charities underwriter Charles Keating. Both markers also honor Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien.

But none of those three are here at the 11 o'clock service, and I am.

Father Michael O'Grady is that wonderful sort, a priest with a sense of humor. Your ear tells you he is straight from the old sod, "Mary of Magdala came to the tomb air-lee in the morning."

The choir is indeed grand until it starts a modern song. The church possesses centuries of moving music, but no choir is immune to the egos that insist upon composing modern, tone-deaf ditties like, God help us all, "Lord of the Dance." It could not have been worse if Michael Flatley himself were entertaining: "I danced on the Sabbath and I cure the lame, the holy people, said it was a shame."

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1 comments
Pauline144
Pauline144

Pervert David Ostler of Prince of Peace in Sun City West - just google Fr. David Ostler Cornwall,Ont. and read about the back door boys David and Gary Ostler

 
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