Resignation of Four Members of Bishops National Review Panel Creates Openings in Old Wounds

By Karl Maurer
Catholic Citizens [United States]
May 3, 2004

Four members of the Bishops review panel resigned last week: Chicago Democratic Party insider Anne Burke, Washington DC attorney Bob Bennett, former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, and former newspaper executive William Burleigh. (I'll miss Bill Burleigh...)

The Chicago Tribune reported Judge Burke as saying, "there was frustration, but that would not prompt me to resign." Oh come on Anne... We're not stupid...

The US Bishops just demonstrated how committed they were to reform by refusing to allow for annual audits to provide a continuous mechanism for rooting out corruption and cover-ups.

Last spring at a press conference held in Chicago, I had the opportunity to ask the review board whether a CONTINUOUS annual review process was going to be put in place. As a former auditor myself, and a CPA, I was well aware of the kind of behavior that went on while the auditors were on site, and what went on after we were long gone. Unless the Bishops gave some investigating power to an independent group, there were really no incentives for them to continue abiding by the Dallas directives to protect children from abuse. Quite the contrary, there was a powerful incentive to get back to business as usual, where abuses and cover-ups flourished.

At the time, former FBI agent Kathleen McChesney had only recently been appointed Executive Director of Office of Child and Youth Protection. She responded to my question by saying that she believed it to be critical in performing her duties that some means be established for continuing to assure parents that Bishops were in compliance with the Dallas agreement. She proposed that a long term commitment be made establishing a process whereby each Diocese would be audited, at a minimum, every three years on a regular cycle. At the time there was no such mechanism in the charter that had created the national review board. There still isn't and there clearly won't be one any time soon.

Responding to the failure of the Bishops to continue the audits, Burke said, "this flies in the face of the charter," referring to the Dallas charter the Catholic bishops enforced in 2002 as part of church reform to prevent sex abuse by priests. "According to the charter they are supposed to have annual audits."

Not quite.

The charter said annual audit, singular. Each diocese had their annual audit. Game over. Most of you probably forgot what a farce the Vatican inspection of the seminaries proved to be in the Eighties, but the Bishops got away with that one too. Some people never learn...

Shortly after the national review board was appointed, Catholic Citizens of Illinois wrote a detailed letter to Bishop Gregory. We asked him what kind of selection criterion would allow for Washington DC insiders like Leon Panetta (who implemented Clinton's pro-gay, pro-abortion agenda) to be members of the Catholic lay board assigned to investigating homosexual abuse in the clergy. In response, we got a schmaltzy form letter with the 'thanks for writing' brush off. I suspect we weren't being singled out, judging by the mountain of complaints that rained down on Gregory.

In spite of yet another PR black-eye the bishops have brought on themselves, there may be a silver lining to this latest brush up. Why they might even go so far as to consider replacing Leon Panetta with, er, a Catholic? And if they need some suggestions, here are the four people we would love to see on the review board...

Dr. Eugene Diamond, MD - An author, lecturer, distinguished professor of pediatric medicine, and active member of the Catholic Medical Association, Dr. Diamond was most recently called to the Vatican to share his thoughts on the crisis facing the Catholic Church as it relates to cultural decay, sexual morality and homosexuality.

Phylis Schlafly - Lawyer, author, founder of the Eagle Forum, and ardent Catholic, Phylis Schlafly is one of the most effective defenders of tradition and Christian truth this country has ever produced. Since her national victory in stopping the poorly named 'equal rights amendment' Mrs. Schlafly has been at the vanguard of reform, especially as it relates to reforming the corrupt and decaying public educaton monopoly.

Phil Lawler - Author and editor of Catholic World Report, an international monthly news magazine, founder of the Catholic World News, Lawler has written five books on political and religious topics. His essays, book reviews, and editorial columns have appeared in over 100 newspapers. CWR has emerged as one of the hardest hitting Catholic journals, and has been especially critical of corruption and spiritual abuse in the US church hierarchy.

Charlie Rice - Ex-marine Charlie Rice is a distinguished author, sought after speaker, and veteran of the Catholic restoration movement. He is Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School, a member of the governing boards of Ave Maria School of Law, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the Eternal Word Television Network. He is also chairman of the Center for Law and Justice International.

With this quality of Catholics on the review board, US Catholics could rest assured that the corruption in the Church that led to the child abuse crisis would be addressed and fixed, pronto. Alas, like so many secular Americans, the US Bishops appointing new members to the review board are likely to take the low road, preferring mediocrity to merit, and go-along-to-get-along gentile ecumenism to authentic Catholic spirit and a charity aimed at revealing the truth.

Meet the new boss... Same as the old boss...


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