No More Bishop Breslin

By Jimmy Breslin
Newsday [New York]
July 26, 2003

I don't want to be a bishop anymore because the bishops of America have given the title such a bad name.

When the Catholic church bishops and their priests around here stumbled into the open for all to see for the atrocious failures that they are, I decided to run my own parish. Bishop Breslin. I would give tremendous sermons to gatherings, as they do in the west of Ireland where they hold Mass without a priest, for there are no priests left, and "without the magic," or transubstantiation. But they remain faithful.

Suddenly, I actually have to plan the start of services. Read again today, and thus with time to reflect, the report just issued by the State of Massachusetts attorney general entitled, "The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston."

Large damaging sections were given to Thomas Daily and William Murphy, who were in charge of Boston priests. There were complaints from the families of 800 molested children. For magnificent service they were given promotions: Daily now is bishop of Brooklyn and William "Mansion" Murphy is bishop of Long Island.

How do you like it? How do you like it if you're a Catholic and they make your bishop the central figure in a report on pedophiles? How do you like it if you have kids? If you have kids at home, you ought to read the report twice. It's all over the Internet. It says children have been in danger around the church because of these bishops.

The first thing I have to do is come up with a new title for myself. Bishop Breslin was a terrific title. But now I don't dare use it in legitimate places.

I cannot understand why, today, right now, Mansion Murphy of Rockville Centre dares to remain on church grounds after all he has done to place children in jeopardy.

Nor can I fathom the reason why Bishop Thomas Daily was still in his residence in Brooklyn this morning. Both bishops belong in the city dump.

They strut around with these big crosses hanging on chains around their necks. Also on that chain they might hang a photo, a new one every week, of a child molested by one of their priests.

One statement reportedly made by Christ, and which I fervently believe, is, "Woe to those who do harm to children. It is better that he tie a millstone around his neck and go off a cliff into the ocean."

From the Massachusetts attorney general's report:

"Bishop Daily had a clear preference for keeping priests who sexually abused children in pastoral ministry and generally followed a practice of transferring those priests without supervision or notification to new parishes rather than removing them ... Bishop Daily apparently did not believe that a priest who engaged in such misconduct was apt to engage in such conduct in the future. Accordingly, he failed to take any meaningful steps to limit abusive priests' contact with children in the future."

From the report:

" ... And, even with undeniable information available to him on the risk of recidivism, Bishop Murphy continued to place a higher priority on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting children from sexual abuse."

He seems the same here. He called a Linda Moraitis at her Farmingdale home one Sunday morning and told her that he saw no reason to ban a priest whom she and her son testified had abused the son. "I told him he believed his priest and not my son," the mother said.

What kind of a belief can he have in anything? He lives in an obscene mansion that he had renovated for himself. The only way to drive these people out is to withhold money. Anybody who puts five dollars in a collection basket approves of what they've done.

And it could have been so different. It could have been the clamor that came up the staircase as I went to the basement auditorium of Our Lady of Mercy church in Forest Hills. I was meeting my friend Arlene D'Arienzo, who sat at a table with Jason Zivkovic as he worked on a papier-mache house. Her friend Sister Ann Barbara Desiano was up in front of 110 excited children in a summer Bible study class. The wonderfully exuberant nun was in the costume of a Pharaoh, a tall paper hat and a brown smock and silver paper to look like a sword hanging from a belt. The wall behind her was covered with large drawings of camels and Egyptian buildings mounted on large panels of cardboard. Arlene D'Arienzo worked on them in her house across the street from church. Now, the nun was telling the story of Moses trying to get his people out of 400 years of slavery.

"Moses said to the Pharaoh, 'Let my people go!' "

She had them all call, "Let my people go!"

Then Ann Barbara Desiano read of the plagues of Egypt. "Frogs!" the nun called out.

With this, she rushed up the aisle throwing handfuls of small rubber frogs.

And the auditorium turned into more than 100 pairs of scrambling bare legs as boys and girls went diving under the tabes to collect the frogs.

She called out the next pest.


The nun again pounded down the aisle throwing small rubber locusts. The kids pounced on them all at once.

Then Sister had them call out, again, "Let my people go!"

In the laughing and excitement, Arlene D'Arienzo said, quietly, "Isn't this a sweet moment?" I nodded. "This is probably too homespun for you," she said.

No. It was what the Catholics should be about. One sweet moment after the next. We know it as love. When I start my parish this is all it will be.


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