Yes, Virginia - Bishop Did Disparage Background Checks

The Dallas Morning News [Dallas TX]
November 18, 2003

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that at the big Catholic bishops' conference last week, Dallas Bishop Charles Grahmann questioned the need to investigate foreign priests before they minister to Catholics here. I find this very hard to believe, given what the diocese has been through under our bishop's leadership, but Papa says, "If you see it in The Dallas Morning News, it's so." Please tell me the truth, did Bishop Grahmann really say this?

Virginia O'Hanlon.

Virginia, your little friends are right. Bishop Grahmann's actual words were, "Do we all have to do this background check for someone who just wants to come in for six weeks?"

Yes, Virginia, there have to be background checks. They must exist as certainly as clerical pederasty, the plaintiff's bar and multimillion-dollar jury awards exist, and you know that they abound and give to Bishop Grahmann's ministry in Dallas its greatest distinction.

Alas, how carefree would be the world if there were no background checks! It would be as carefree as if there had been no Bishop Grahmann. Now, we should have no enjoyment except in seeing our woebegone bishop resign and make way for one who understands what the present moment requires.

Not believe in background checks! You might as well not believe in Rudy Kos, or, more to the point, Ernesto Villaroya, the very naughty Filipino priest our bishop installed in a Frisco parish earlier this year, with only the flimsiest pretense of a background investigation.

Bishop Grahmann forces his pastors to put lay volunteers through criminal background checks if they want to do volunteer work in their parish, but if he does not hold himself to the same standard, what does that prove?

Bishop Grahmann doesn't see the danger, but that is no sign that there is no danger. Did he ever see sexually abusive priests dancing with Mickey Mouse ears on the chancery lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there.

No background checks! God have mercy! They will be with us forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, if it takes that long to restore trust and create accountability, they will continue to burden the lives of Catholic priests and laypeople.

Bishop Grahmann, however, reaches retirement age in 2006.

Apologies to Francis Church, late editorial writer of The New York Sun

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