Matt C. Abbott
Disgraceful diocesan dirty deeds; Readers sound off on JFK, Christmas joy
By Matt C. Abbott
December 15, 2010

It's rare — very rare — that I actually agree with a secular newspaper's editorial regarding some aspect of the Church. But I do in this case.

From a Dec. 10 editorial in the Winona Daily News (excerpted; click here to read the full piece):

    How much publicity could you buy with $134,000? Probably a whole lot less than the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis got for free last week. The two dioceses decided to seek attorneys fees from a man who apparently was molested by a priest, Thomas Adamson.

    Let's review: Adamson is no stranger to the Diocese of Winona. The diocese had to pay more than a million dollars because he had committed sexual abuses while working as a priest for the diocese. He scurried to the archdiocese where the abuse continued. A victim decided to sue the diocese two years ago. He won in trial, but an appeals court later said the statute of limitations prevented him from winning a judgment, handing both dioceses a technical victory.

    Let's also make this clear: This was no exoneration. This was no victory. This was a technicality. So, the dioceses have decided to seek attorneys fees because they technically prevailed. If we have this right: They're asking a victim to pay for their attorneys even though he was sexually abused by a priest whom the dioceses knew to be a threat (he first admitted to abusing children in 1964).

    The sheer gall of such a request is stunning. But this is no mere civil litigation between two private parties. This is an institution that purports to be the legacy of Jesus Christ's compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love. To think the dioceses would ask for money from a victim is not only disappointing, but it shows a basic lack of compassion. If this is how the [C]hurch acts, how can it reasonably expect its parishioners to turn the other cheek? The quality of mercy appears to be strained in the [C]hurch, especially when it comes to attorneys fees.

    Beyond the sheer audacity of such a move, it's equally sad that when the dioceses announced they would 'postpone' a claim for attorneys fees, it appeared to be little more than a publicity stunt, meant to assuage a storm of bad publicity. The truth is while the dioceses said they'd 'postpone' their action, the suits still are active, and it hasn't really stopped the legal action....

This reminds me of the Bernardin regime here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Clergy abuse victims were not exactly treated with kid gloves by archdiocesan attorneys. Hardball tactics were fairly common, from what I understand. Meanwhile, the stench of the regime's corruption still fills this city, even on a bone-chillingly cold day.

The corruption — ecclesiastical and secular — runs deep. Very deep.

On a related note: According to reports, the Legion of Christ has ordered all images of its disgraced founder, Marcial Maciel, removed from its centers worldwide.

Depending on the size of the image, one could use it to, say, line the bottom of a birdcage, although doing that might be showing disrespect to the bird.

Charlotte K. wrote (slightly edited):

"You are totally right-on, Mr. Abbott! Thank you for this insightful article. I have long thought that about Jack Kennedy. So much of what gave the Kennedys their panache, their love of culture, their education and worldview was formed by their Catholic upbringing, and he never acknowledged that. Granted, had JFK lived longer, he may have acknowledged the role of Catholicism in his life at some point; let's give him that.

"In a recently-aired interview with Rose Kennedy shortly after Robert's assassination, she talked about how she reared those children, and I have no doubt JFK was formed in large part by the family faith. Of course, he was also his father's son and his indiscretions, now known, were his dark side.

"I also agree that his statement about 'keeping one's faith private' did a great deal of harm to religion in general in this country as people, especially politicians, began to check their faith at the doors of the halls of justice and business. What the liberals love about JFK — his humor, erudite way and eloquence — were not only talent, but Catholic training. They just don't know it. It's also what made this country so strong for so long."

Tonchi Weaver wrote (slightly edited):

"I'm going to be bold here and say that as a mail carrier for the past 31 years, no one knows Christmas chaos more than I do! It can be a time of depression and stress because I am sooo inadequate. I could never get everything done that needs to be done for a 'perfect' Christmas, working 8- to 12-hour days, cleaning and decorating a big house, baking treats, sending letters and cards, shopping for gifts, wrapping packages, and keeping up with the laundry — and I'm not getting any younger! I find it best to pick and choose the things that are important.

"The most important Christmas tradition for me is to decorate our Christmas tree. It is a wonderful ritual to hang each ornament while listening to my personal selection of Christmas music (I'm a connoisseur of renditions of Silent Night). It is a cathartic experience as cherished memories of Christmas past emerge with every ornament hung. Yes, Dickens was right: There are ghosts who visit as we prepare for this holy time. All those I have loved and shared Christmas with over the years become close to me once again as the soft music plays. Family members and friends who have passed on, people who have touched my life in positive ways, strangers who have shown me kindness — even for just a moment — are remembered with gratitude. All were gifts from a loving God.

"Sometimes just standing for a moment in the stillness of a winter night and looking skyward is enough to remind me that in the midst of the darkness, God has placed many bright lights to guide us. You are one of mine. God bless you this Christmas; may your heart rejoice and be glad!"

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


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