Stranger Isn't Needed

By Jimmy Breslin
Newsday [New York]
August 3, 2003

A couple of months ago, when it was obvious that there had to be a new bishop in Brooklyn, the Papal Nuncio, which is the typical Roman way to confuse people, the title in English meaning messenger boy for the pope, was asked by priests in the diocese who his consultants were in compiling a list of possible bishops.

The nuncio, Bishop Gabriel Montalvo, answered in writing. "I cannot tell you who I consulted with because this is papal secrecy."

That's the answer you get when you are nothing more than a cheap branch store of a Rome business. When I want to work in a business based in Italy, I'll work in one. Right now I'm in America and I don't want anything to do with the other side of the seas. In particular giving them money. Anybody who gives money to a church that sends it to Rome is nothing but a grubby victim.

What the nuncio, Montalvo, did was to put up a list of three candidates who were supposedly supported by anonymous bishops around the area. Right there is the weakness of totalitarianism. For many would assume that the bishops get picked the way judges are picked in Brooklyn. By deceit and cash deposits.

His list of three was transmitted to the senior cardinal in the Vatican, Giovanni Re. He is in the top three to be the next pope. Re then sent the top name on the Brooklyn list to the pope, who named him.

So this is how DiMarzio comes to Brooklyn. Nobody ever heard of him or knew what he looked like until yesterday. He never called, sent a postcard or even sent a piece of literature. Nobody interviewed him. And not one single solitary soul in the diocese of Brooklyn voted for him. He just walked into Brooklyn with a piece of paper from a foreign city that says he is the keeper of the morals for all of Brooklyn and Queens.

Usually, bishops are named early in the week. But late Thursday afternoon in Rome, undoubtedly because of the carnage over sex scandals in Brooklyn, the resignation of Thomas Daily was accepted and the new bishop was Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden, New Jersey. Notification for all but a few people arrived too late at night for the morning newspapers.

Daily came down here from Boston with William "Mansion" Murphy, both hideous failures in the sex scandals. Daily did no good on that subject in Brooklyn. And Mansion Murphy is the outgoing bishop of Rockville Centre. If he had any shame, he would be out of here by nightfall. The last I saw of him, he was on stages at Catholic high schools in Islip and Hicksville and people got up and rebuked him, sometimes angrily. He sat in total silence for a couple of hours. Not one word. Just sat there and took it. I never saw anything as pathetic in my time in my business. The thought occurred, Good Lord, is this how he got the job?

And now DiMarzio comes to sprawling Brooklyn from Camden. He has a heartwarming past of helping immigrants. But when it came to dealing with the great failure of the church, the molesting of children by priests and bishops, his record shows him to be empty and mean. In Camden, DiMarzio wept for victims. Then he had lawyers in court attack victims as if they were refuse. Last year, my friend Nancy Phillips of the Philadelphia Inquirer sent me an account of DiMarzio's lawyers attacking a victim. I saved it and bring it out today promptly and thus prominently. Bishop DiMarzio's lawyer asked the victim whether he became aroused when a priest fondled him, whether he ejaculated when the priest performed oral sex on him, whether he had masturbated as a teenager and asked him detailed questions about his intimate relationship with his wife.

Judge John G. Himmelberger Jr. of Atlantic County Superior Court moodily ruled for the church. He then said: "Even though the church was in its legal rights to vigorously defend itself, it seems to me that the church's position in this litigation is at odds with its stance as a moral force in society. From where I sit, playing legal hardball doesn't seem quite right."

DiMarzio does not have the job for an hour yesterday and he announces that with his heart and soul he supports the pope's attack on same sex marriages. God forbid he should mention housing in Brooklyn. This is to take attention from what these moral degenerates, these priests in turnaround collars, have done to so many.

The pope announced that gays are gravely immoral. They are put on the earth by God, but this old man can put on a big high pope's hat and condemn them. Is he angry that so many priests are gay?

Then the pope commanded that Catholic politicians in America must do everything they can to oppose these same sex marriages. Vote against them. Vote the pope. Like he's a cheap county leader. Soon, he may be demanding that Brooklyn bishop and priests vote his wishes in a surrogate's race in Brooklyn.

Simultaneously, in a press conference, George Bush, when he didn't even get a question about same sex marriages, said he was against these sinners, as strong as the pope he was following.

Our most wonderful young soldiers are getting killed every day. And here was a president whose fractured English reflects the mind that drawls it out, crying against gays to distract you from death.

And on Friday the millions of Brooklyn and Queens Catholics were presented with a man we never saw and yet were told to obey. I must apologize. It would be nice to be nice to Bishop DiMarzio, but the days are over when people can let a stranger stroll in to run their lives.


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