I believe... that celibacy doesn't have a prayer

By Jimmy Breslin

It looks like the only way to rehabilitate the Catholic Church is for all the priests who have girlfriends or are secretly married to come out as advertisements for Catholic sanity. They then can get the support of enough parishioners to take over the church. Simultaneously, women must be ordained. Put the two together, and the church can be saved.
Right now, the church has a system for suicide. The symbol is Palm Beach, Florida, where the bishop had to resign over an old sex-abuse scandal, and his replacement came in and he, too, had to get out for the same charge.
I don't know why any Catholic would give $5 to the church as it is now. The money you give is only going to be used for settlement of these enormous suits against pedophile priests. The cases up in Boston are going to cost anywhere up to $100 million, and the Boston diocese will be out borrowing from every diocese, including yours, to pay off.
This is the church that has the confessional box as one of its central beliefs, and yet the bishops and cardinals stand out on the steps and defend, deny, dispute, lie, hide, bury, and omit.
They disgrace the decent priests who spend their lives assisting the sick and dying. My friend, the late Al McGuire, always used to go out of his way to say hello and smile at a priest on the street. "They lead lonely lives. You give them a boost."
That's something you had with you from grammar school. But there is no way to be serene or dignified about the present catastrophe. This whole thing started with the church trying to cover up so many of the priests with sex-abuse charges by sending them to parishes in New Mexico that it has been reported that large numbers of young Mexicans fled back across the border to Mexico.
Either the pedophiles were this way before they entered the priesthood, finding it a good place to hide their faults, or they were twisted by the doctrine of celibacy. This doctrine was put into the life of the Catholic religion a thousand years ago when there were married priests and monks with lands that they left to their children. Rome, greedy for land, ruled that no longer could priests be married, and that upon their death, all land reverts to Rome.
Forcing humans to live unnaturally, as a real estate tactic, the rule was rotten from the start. It caused endless human havoc as the Vatican insisted that it remain in force.
Somewhere over time, if enough priests had announced that they were no longer going to live a cold life, that they were in favor of love in their parish while serving their God, something might have changed. It never happened, and now we have Boston.
Some of the blame for the enormous cost in Boston goes to the bishop in Brooklyn, Thomas Daily, and the bishop of Long Island, William Murphy, who were chief assistants in Boston under Cardinal Bernard Law, who is of another age.
Law is a bitter conservative. Always, conservatives stand for catastrophe. The archbishop of New York, Edward Egan, had been the director of counseling on sex abuse in Manhattan before becoming the bishop in charge of the Bridgeport, Connecticut, diocese. For eight years the diocese tried to rebuff a suit by a couple who claimed their son had been molested, and finally it detonated. Egan went to New York, and Bridgeport is left with it.
Under Cardinal Law, with Murphy and Daily handling the cases, there were widespread charges against pedophile priests, including 86 cases against one priest, the Rev. John Geoghan, who seemed to be the personal charge of Bishop Murphy. Geoghan was transferred from parish to parish in order to cover up his crimes until, with Murphy and Daily running transfers, he was placed in a parish where he was in charge of altar boys and two other youth groups. That didn't quite work. They wound up in court.
In a deposition, Daily was asked about his “fear of public perception”:
Q. What does that mean?
A. I don't know. It might well have referred to the thought of scandal, if it becomes public, this whole thing. I don't know. Public perception. In other words, I am underlining that because of the concern of the public reaction.
Q. Was it a policy in the archdiocese when you were in Boston to avoid scandal where possible?
A. Yes.
Q. And were these events types of events that would cause scandal for the church?
A. Yes.
"There is something sinister about the way the church defends these cases," Michael Dowd said recently. He is the Manhattan lawyer who has won several sexual-abuse cases against the church in New York. "The church lawyers say, ‘The parents are no good, the kid is no good. How can he be damaged?' The answer is that the sexual abuse, and then deriding the victim, has such a profound effect on the kid that who knows when he gets over it?"
If you had women in charge or married priests, nobody would be harming a kid.

This essay originally appeared in Newsday, a New York daily.