Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today on Kresta - April 8, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 8

4:00 – Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
Dr. Leon Podles is the author of Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. He ended that book with the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI and his promise to clean up the filth in the Church. In his book, which explored the deep roots of the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, Podles pulled no punches in describing the horrors of that abuse. He traced the enabling of abuse back to the failures of the clergy and its narcissistic culture of clericalism. As president of Crossland Foundation Podles has collected and reviewed tens of thousands of pages that document sexual abuse in every diocese in the United States and numerous cases throughout the world. His background as a retired federal investigator has given him the ability to skillfully analyze these cases. Dr. Podles recognizes Benedict's accomplishments in ridding the Church of sexual abuse but points out his failure to vindicate victims by failing to punish those who tolerated and enabled abuse. He calls for an independent lay commission with authority from the Pope to investigate the whole crisis and to make recommendations for the reform of the Church. Leon is here to make his case.

5:00 – Direct to My Desk - Westboro Baptist Church: Criminal Infliction of Emotional Distress or Protected Free Speech?
On April 11, 2006, the family and friends of recently deceased Cpl. David A. Bass gathered in a Nashville church to pay their final respects to the 20-year-old Marine who was killed in Iraq when his 7-ton truck rolled over in a flash flood. While those at the funeral mourned, however, a small group of protesters celebrated his death across the street, holding signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for I.E.D.’s.” The father of the dead soldier sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress and won $5 million. Then the Appeals Court reversed that ruling AND ordered the soldier’s father to pay Westboro $16,510 in court costs. Now the case is headed to the Supreme Court. Is this a case of disgusting, yet protected, religious free speech or a case of criminal activity? We want to hear from you.


  1. Heh-heh-heh! 4PM could be awesome..or it could be like trying to watch "Dancing with the Stars" on the radio. Here's hoping it's the former. :-)

  2. I wonder how you feel about Dr. Podles' information. I brought up empathy because I wanted to hear how you understood the importance of empathy. Evidently, you do not understand the significance of empathy and the difference in male vs female capacity for empathy. Empathy in a female is extremely passionate and finely tuned into the suffering of others. It passionately motivates her to nurture and protect.
    This sex abuse would have been eradicated if the hierarchy had this level of empathy.
    I am consistently disappointed that you have dismissed my statements and do not even explore in any level of depth the importance of empathy. I have the training, education and experience of 30 years in learning the dynamics of interpersonal neurobiology and this information is constantly underestimated and undervalued in the faith.
    I know what your world view is Al. You are limited in your understanding of human nature and therefore, it limits your understanding of the human problem in the Church, just as the Pope and the hierarchy are limited. This is what creates the conflict and defensiveness in response to the main stream media.
    I do not once again expect that you will seriously consider what I have written because you haven't in the past.
    Nick, I am now contributing to those medical practioners who you have grown to enjoy and appreciate.
    God Bless all of you.

  3. Mr. Kresta,

    I had no idea Dr. Podles was to be your guest today when I wrote my response posted on the "Today on Kresta - March 23rd" site. I have to say that I was very pleased with the clear line of questioning in your interview.

    You can hear more of Dr. Podles here on youtube: His website blog is:

    Thank you,

    Doug Sirman

  4. Ron,
    You'll have to help me out on this. I am unaware of being dismissive of your contributions. It wouldn't, however, be the first time I failed to appreciate someone else's insight.

    To your empathy point: Sure, I would like to see more women in church leadership, apart from ordination, simply on the grounds that God created the human,male and female.

    If we believe that each pole of the binary mediates something distinctive about God and his world, then a more equitable distribution of women in decisionmaking positions will, all things being equal, help insure better decisionmaking.

    But all things aren't equal. I'm afraid that saying the bishops failed because women were not present in their deliberations unwittingly excuses guilty bishops. Don't you think that any sane male has sufficient empathy to feel the pain of a raped 10 year old boy and won't reassign the perpetrator to work near other children. That was the last point I was trying to make during the call.

    Nick and I discussed your last sentence above and don't get the reference. Is this a reference to your health or Nick's or both?

  5. Dear Doug,
    I'm glad you appreciated the Podles interview. I did too. Let me pick up the thread of our previous conversation. Do you have any references to the "best science" remarks made by diocesan officials?

    I'm interested in filling in some holes in my narrative. During the early 1990s there was a flare-up about this issue which didn't generate the media fireworks of 2002. I was working for Crawford Broadcasting at the time and put my producer on the USCCB during one of their semi-annual conventions. Complete silence. Complete refusal to provide a spokesman to even contextualize the press reports. Then the whole thing seemed to pass. (I think this was at time when Jason Berry originally published "Lead Us Not Into Temptation.")

    So if you've got particular "best science" references I want to track them down. Thanks.

  6. Al, Thank you for responding. It is difficult to make a concise statement when there is so much information that relates to that statement. I would just love to talk with you on the phone sometime to explain the empathy and women connection.
    It is the relationship with women that makes us better men. The influence of the woman will actually restructure the males brain to respond with more empathy and thus make a better decision to help another by understanding the emotional dynamics of pain and the best way to respond.
    If women are not a primary source of influence in the developing male brain then the result is a restricted empathetic response.
    I have Nick's email and will let him know what is happening with me if I have not worn out my welcome with my impatience in this crisis in the Faith that I love without reservation.
    I am truly sorry if I offended you. In my work when there is a crisis I respond immediately and consistently to make certain everyone is safe.
    If I have failed in treating someone correctly I will meet with that person face to face immediately to make amends and to let the other person be heard without any defense on my part. This approach has created healing not only for the other person but also for me and it has influenced the healing of a history of abuse and neglect through me as the perceived authority figure allowing rage and fear to be expressed without any defense on my part. It did not matter if I was right or wrong. It mattered that the other person was heard and validated and protected from further harm.
    Thanks Al.

  7. Al,

    Prior to 2002, "best science" and it's variants were primarily used against family members who wished to pursue legal action against individual priests. During the eruption of 2002, and even now, it was used in press statements and PR campaigns. Here are a few examples:

    Archbishop John C. Favrola –

    Jimmy Akin –

    “[Archbishop] Mahony, meeting with a group of Times reporters and editors . repeatedly said it was unfair to impose today's standards of judgment on bishops who had kept priests in ministry on the basis of psychological advice of a different era. -- July 4”

    "Everyone is taking the matrix of 2002 knowledge and placing that matrix on what happened some time 15, 20, 30 years ago," Mahony told a recent gathering of editors and reporters. Coincidentally or not, his if-only-we-knew-then-what-we-know-now pitch has intensified since May, after hiring Sitrick & Co., Enron Corporation's former public-relations firm, to shore up his sagging image.”

    "Based on good and competent psychological and medical advice available to us at the time, I [Bishop John B. McCormack] and my predecessors used our policy to ensure the safety of children. This . . . allowed the return of some priests to ministry after careful evaluation and assurances from medical experts that they could do so without placing anyone at risk," he said.
    [This is obviously using some definition of the words “good” and “competent” of which I was previously unaware.]

    Chancellor Statkus wrote that he “assured her that truly Father Leneweaver was appointed in accord with medical advice, and that he [had] undergone therapy and medical attention.” [read the whole thing - it’s particularly telling as it delineates Bevilaqua’s penchant for manipulating semantics for the purposes of reassignment]

    “[diocesan atty] Cleary conceded the diocese had failed to prevent the abuse Gay incurred but said it was relying on medical advice in a time when it was commonly believed that such sexually deviant behavior was curable.”

    This one’s just included because it so effectively displays the clericalism and will to sacrifice other people’s children.

    These are just a few which demonstrate Bishops implementing variations of the “best science of the time” excuse. If you want to do the research yourself, feel free.

    I have run into one or two catholics who claim bishop-accountability is an anti-catholic website and can’t be trusted. When I counter by asking “which identifiable group has a long-standing history of repeatedly lying about this subject?”, their counter-argument is usually along the lines of “uh, shut-up.” I don’t think this is in keeping with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, but I could be wrong.