Skip to comments.Adamec Takes On Rod Dreher In Wall Street Journal
Posted on 03/19/2003 8:45:03 AM PST by Maximilian
Rod Dreher, in his Houses of Worship column (Taste page, Weekend Journal March 7), accused me of "concealing abuse accusations against four priests" and "threatening to excommunicate any priest who publicly disagrees" with me. Both statements are untrue.
Since I became Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown in the Spring of 1987, I have had to deal with a number of allegations involving the abuse of minors, all of them occurring years earlier. I have suspended priests who were known threats to children and investigated other allegations, some of which were not able to be substantiated. A lengthy statement about the handling of these matters can be accessed on our Diocesan web site: www.diocesealtjtn.org/news.
I am supposed to have placed our priests under some sort of gag order. What that refers to, I presume, is not a gag order but a verbal presentation that was made last fall at a clergy conference. That presentation explained the laws of the church relative to a person publicly inciting public dissent against the church. The law is not mine but that of the universal church as found in the code of canon law, and it applies particularly to the priests and deacons who are an extension of the bishop's teaching authority. Neither that presentation nor the case of the reported precept against a certain priest had anything to do with the abuse of minors on the part of priests or the reporting thereof. I am fully aware that we as clergy are mandatory reporters.
(Most Rev.) Joseph V. Adamec
Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown
To the editor:
In his letter yesterday, Bishop Joseph Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., accused me of making two untrue accusations in my March 7 "Houses of Worship" column. It is indisputably true that, as I said in the column, that the local newspaper has reported allegations that Adamec has covered up abuse accusations against four local priests. According to the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Adamec has in four extant cases of alleged priest sex abuse not followed the national guidelines adopted by the country's Catholic bishops last summer. The county district attorney called the bishop's conduct in the matter "disappointing." Catholic lay leaders have declared publicly that they went to the media with this information after being rebuffed by the bishop -- the same bishop who refused to answer questions about the apparent cover-up until the Tribune-Democrat's revelations forced him to. About Adamec, abuse victims' leader David Clohessy has said, "Almost no bishop in the country so steadfastly refuses to acknowledge even a single mistake." That's some achievement.
Secondly, Adamec puts a preposterous spin on a verbal presentation he gave to his priests last fall. I've personally spoken with Altoona-Johnstown priests who said the bishop warned that priests could face canonical sanction, including excommunication, if they criticized him publicly. Now Adamec is claiming that he was merely warning them against "publicly inciting public dissent against the church." This is rich.
For one thing, Adamec has never been known as a staunch defender of Catholic orthodoxy (indeed, quite the opposite). For another, as difficult as it is for many bishops to believe, the bishop is not the same thing as the church. Besides, Adamec has done this before to a priest he found troublesome. Monsignor Philip Saylor, a respected priest who was intimately aware of the diocese's atrocious record of handling priest pederasty cases, received a decree signed by Adamec on September 9, 1999, in which he was threatened with possible suspension and excommunication if he ever made a public statement that, among other things, caused the faithful to think poorly of their bishop. (The decree can be viewed at: http://www.dioceseaj.com/docs/saylor.html).
Sounds like cover-up to me. Is there any wonder why Altoona-Johnstown priests are afraid? Tell the truth about ecclesial corruption, and you could not only be defrocked, but thrown out of the church forever. Those poor priests can lose everything if they cross Adamec -- all the more reason for faithful laymen to rise to defend them and our church from bishops who seem to be doing their best to sully it.
Rod Dreher is a Senior Columnist for the National Review and contributor to the Wall Street Journal.
Published with permission of the Wall Street Journal. All Rights Reserved.
I hope the opposite is true for Adamec. May he soon join the ranks of Law and Weakland.
There is something similar going on here in Dallas. Wick Allison, former editor of National Review and current publisher of D Magazine, has organized a group of prominent laymen who are pressuring Bishop Charles Grahmann (of Rudy Kos fame) to resign. Grahmann has a coadjutor, Bishop Joseph Galante, but Galante has been shunted to the side. The morale in the Dallas chancery is at rock-bottom, as it is in some parishes and the diocesan seminary.
It is clear that Rome is going to do nothing about these bishops, nor are their cohorts. Their priests are scared to death of them. So, it is up to laymen to drive them out.
That presentation explained the laws of the church relative to a person publicly inciting public dissent against the church. The law is not mine but that of the universal church as found in the code of canon law ...Stop it, you're scaring me.
What to think, what to think.
Maybe it is in other diocese that priests are scared to death of their bishops, but the opposite is true in Boston. There are so many dissident priests here that the bishop was afraid of them. Have any of the so-called Catholic Colleges and Universities signed the mandatum? That could be one criteria... if the Catholic theologians have not signed the mandatum find out if it is them or the bishop who opposes signing it. Then you know who is afraid of whom.
That said, I do not believe Adamec is one of the good guys. Nor is Grahmann. It would be interesting to see what would happen if each diocese sold off the chancery and had the bishop live in a regular rectory with a regular housekeeper, cook and no special treatment. The "job" might not be quite as appealing.
I dunno if the loudest laymen are any better than the bishops... sometimes this stuff is all about power. Again, I am drawing on my own personal experience. The move is on here by VOTF to control the parishes via connected parish councils, voting in/out bishops/priests and uh, changing some of the more "restrictive" rules. And VOTF, our current new Call to Action type group using a different moniker, was started by some of the very liberal Universalist Unitarian Catholic priests (not afraid of the bishop, obviously) who have been around long enough and have had their finger on the pulse enough for me (and others) to wonder why it is that they never reported an abusing priest - even when they were friends or roomates of those priests. Curious.
The bottom line is that, after reading quite a bit, history always repeats itself. Aside of all our modern ammenities, some things have never changed over the course of our 2,000 year old history of Christianity.
Sometimes? All the time.
The question is, is the kind of power that's been exercised by these bishops best left in their hands, or shared, more or less, with responsible laymen?
There'll be abuses in both. It just depends on what kind of abuses the faithful want to put up with.
dissenters from his opinion that is.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.