End-of-Week Hodgepodge: On Defining Others, Bayard Rustin, Hate and Religion, Witches, and President-Elect of Conference of Catholic Superiors of Men


William D. Lindsey

5. At its annual assembly a few weeks ago, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which serves the leadership of more than 17,000 Catholic priests and brothers who belong to religious orders in the U.S., chose Fr. James J. Greenfield of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales as its president-elect. On behalf of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy responds:

A Delaware priest, who claims there’s a “war on the Roman Catholic priesthood” has just been elected head of America’s Catholic religious orders. He also insists that two convicted child molesters are innocent and that prosecutors are “overzealous.” We think he’s an extremist.

David Clohessy notes that Greenfield made his “incendiary remarks” about a purported “war” on priests as abuse cases are investigated and tried in court to Ralph Cipriano of the Big Trial blog in Philadelphia. Clohessy adds,

Fr. Greenfield’s election sends a depressing and chilling message to thousands of clergy sex abuse victims. Decades into the church’s horrific and on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, Catholic officials are still elevating colleagues who deny and mischaracterize the scandal.

And I agree with David that this decision of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men deserves critical attention. If the goal of the Catholic hierarchy and of religious communities is to get to the bottom of abuse and to be transparent in account for it, electing people who speak about the investigation of the abuse crisis as a “war” on priests is hardly likely to help us achieve that goal.

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