In a debate with Archbishop John Onaiyekan and former British MP Ann Widdecombe about the virtues of the Roman Catholic Church, Christopher Hitchens pilloried the pope's promise to provide the victims of pedophile priests with "loving pastoral care." "I'm sorry," said Hitchens, "they've already had that."
Quite right they have, but it's obviously too much to hope that one Hitchensian zinger could halt the procession of similarly stupid remarks from the mouths of Catholic officialdom. Yesterday, in a story in the Sun-Sentinel, one could read the Archdiocese of Miami's response to allegations that a local nun repeatedly molested a boy in 1978 and 1979: "We are not aware of this lawsuit," said a spokeswoman named Mary Ross Agosta: "However, as in the case of any alleged abuse, we immediately extend pastoral and psychological counseling to the alleged victim to begin the healing process."
Ah, yes. How soothing it will be to the alleged victim to hear his alleged molester's coworkers repeatedly refer to his trauma as "alleged." That's a wonderful way to begin the alleged healing, which of course is necessary only if the alleged molestation is not only alleged but actual.
The name of the accuser has yet to be released to the public. His lawyer, Jeffrey Herman, refers to him as "John Doe 73." Why "73"? Because this is the 73rd such plaintiff Herman has represented.
The Sentinel article did release the name of the alleged victimizer, which I'll refrain from doing here because she's yet to be convicted of anything. It is worth mentioning that she was employed at St. James Catholic School in North Miami when the abuse allegedly took place. Other allegedly sanctified alleged abusers have been employed there as well.
The most disturbing aspect of the Sentinel's story must be the paragraph immediately beneath Mary Ross Agosta's quote:
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[Agosta] added that anyone who has been the victim of clergy sexual abuse should call the church's hotline at 1-866-802-2873.
No disrespect to the Sentinel, but that is an extraordinarily stupid idea. When one has been criminally victimized, the appropriate response is not to alert the victimizer's friends and coworkers. The appropriate response is a quick phone call to the police. That Mary Ross Agosta would suggest otherwise and that her suggestion would be printed in a major publication speaks volumes about the underserved special status accorded those groups of humans who claim, without evidence, to be in communication with "God."
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