Thursday, February 09, 2006

Chicago Tribune Finds Joliet Bishop Guilty

The Chicago Tribune, from its earliest days as Chicago's best fish wrapper, has had a tradition of joyfully condemning the Catholic Church and Catholics. As a Whig and later Republican paper, the Chicago Tribune has never missed an opportunity to hit Catholics and the Archdiocese of Chicago as foreign, criminal, puritanical, clannish, racist, anti-semetic, Poilitical Machine driven, drunken, licentious, corrupt, and devious. From Medil, through McCormick, to its current Board of Directors, the Chicago Tribune never misses an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church, its ministers, and its congregants.

But Chicago is a Catholic city and Catholic make up a heavy portion of the Tribune's readership. I do not and have not bought a Chicago Tribune in years, but I read it. My neighbors always throw it out and itis available on-line. Today's editorial is another such example.

America's leading clerical-abuse ambulance chaser, Jeffery Anderson of Minnesota, is hard at work in Illinois to rake in millions of dollars from people who claim to have been abused by priests. The Chicago Tribune's tack on Herr Anderson is that he is a fearless dragon-of-Babylon slayer and champion of helpless victims. That's nice. I read the news. Amderson is always in the News - CNN, Times-Picayun, Boston Globe, and etc. Lawyer Anderson was broke in the early eighties until he took up the case of a drifter who wandered into a Catholic Church in order to relieve himself. Anderson won a huge settlement by portraying the Catholic Church as hostile to the homeless and deflecting the the charge of unlawful entry. Sharp guy.

From there it was gravy. Taking cases that allowed huge settlements from individual dioceses around America, Anderson amassed millions of dollars in fees and with the sexual abuse cases pouring in, Anderson made more millions.

Let's pause there . The Catholic Church in America was devastated by the size and scope of priest sexual abuse cases that were swept aside by Chancery nit-wits and monstrous asses like Boston's Cardinal Law - who skulked off to the Vatican. The Catholic Conference of Bishops convened to combat abuase and with their usual aplomb screwed the pooch by an inability to understand the anger of the Catholic laity. Nevertheless, sexual abuse cases began to see the light of day. But I am no lawyer and can only imagine the dent that reform will make in the coffers of a pettifogging crumb like Anderson. So after a breather - it's full charge against the Church.

The Chicago Tribune has decided to bring its artillary down on Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet. They don't have the grapes to opennly criticize Chicago's Cardinal George but at least they can get a few licks in on the Bishop of Joliet.

I detest the the Tribune. When it wants someone 'dead' in the media, it takes the leash off its dogs. Sheriff Michael Sheahan was a frequent target but he punched back and theTribune yelped its way back under the couch. The Tribune wanted to destroy Sheahan professionally and personally in the press and when the Tribune's orchestrated Cook County Jail assault straw-man went to the jury , it only took the sober judgment of 12 good people to toss the charges in twenty minutes. I hope that Bishop Imesch diplays the same toughness as Mike Sheahan. When asked by reporters from the balance of Chicago's mediums about the quality of Chicago Tribune investigative powers, Sheahan succinctly and accurately summed up ' Tribune invesitgative journalism is BS.' Chicago agreed.

But that does not stop the paper that declared Dewey a Winner! Take a look at what the Chicago Tribune's editorial brain-trust opines:

Bishop Imesch, in his wordsPublished February 9, 2006
Americans curious about the failure of many Roman Catholic bishops to report sexual abuse by clerics owe gratitude to Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch. During a deposition given last August and unsealed by a judge last week, the bishop put words to the code of silence that insulated his subordinates--if not the innocents they allegedly exploited:- In one deposition excerpt, attorney Jeffrey Anderson quizzed Imesch about a deacon's report to diocesan officials in 1985 that a Woodridge priest, Rev. Edward Stefanich, might be having an improper relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Did Imesch contact police? "I would not do that," the bishop said. "There is no verification. There is no hard evidence that this was happening. And I'm not going to go say, `Hey, police, go check on my priest.'"Anderson: "If you had reported this to the police in 1985 to investigate the suspicion ... this girl wouldn't have been raped?"Imesch: "I'm not going to go to the police and say I've got a suspicion that one of my priests is dating a young girl. I'm not going to do that."Anderson: "She was a 14-year-old girl."Imesch: "We didn't know that at the time."Anderson: "You didn't ask."Imesch: "We didn't know who to ask."The deacon, sensibly, did go to the police. Stefanich pleaded guilty in August 1987 to criminal sexual abuse and was sentenced to 6 months in jail. He also left the priesthood.- Anderson asked about Rev. Larry Gibbs, accused of abusing boys in Lombard. Imesch said Gibbs acknowledged skinny-dipping with the boys and playing games while they were nude--conduct Imesch called "inappropriate." Imesch moved Gibbs to a Lockport parish, where he again was accused. When Anderson asked Imesch if he considered the 1980 Lombard allegations against Gibbs credible, the bishop replied: "Well, I think what happened happened. It was not considered a crime or a criminal activity so there was no reason for me not to transfer him."- In the late 1970s, a Michigan priest confided to Imesch that he had sexually abused an altar boy there. The admission came after the priest, Rev. Gary Berthiaume, had been arrested, but before he was convicted of molesting the boy. Why hadn't Imesch reported Berthiaume's admission to Michigan investigators? "Well, I don't think that was my responsibility," the bishop said. "He is charged with a crime. He has to be given a trial. My going to the police doesn't have anything to do with whether he's guilty or not." Years later, Imesch invited Berthiaume to work at a retreat house in the Joliet diocese.Imesch's words eloquently explain why this abuse crisis is not a matter for the church alone to resolve. Many of the bishops who covered up crimes, and who enabled predators to hurt new victims, still face no formal consequences.Imesch said in a weekend letter to his flock that these incidents occurred "before psychologists recognized that behavior of that kind was indicative of a severe problem that could not be adequately treated." The diocese now notifies civil authorities of any abuse allegations, he said. "The media reports tend to portray me as someone who doesn't care about the safety of children. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of us can look back on our lives and find things we should have done differently."No, it's not the news media that portray Imesch in a troubling light. His words suffice.A diocesan spokesman told the Tribune that Imesch, who is 74 and plans to retire at 75, has asked the Vatican to look for his replacement.So Bishop Imesch, it appears, will be allowed to leave on his terms. How convenient for him.The people molested by criminals he didn't report will continue to live with the consequences.And the many honorable, selfless priests of the Joliet diocese can soon begin rebuilding the trust that Bishop Imesch has destroyed.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

I am stopping at DiCola's for some cat-fish after work. I know I'll find a Trib in the parking lot there.

1 comment:

mmmcounts said...

I liked what Imesch said about Gibbs, who was accused of abusing boys (or at least engaging in inappropriate behavior of the naked and honey-oriented variety) in Lombard. "Imesch moved Gibbs to a Lockport parish, ***where he again was accused.*** When Anderson asked Imesch if he considered the 1980 Lombard allegations against Gibbs credible, the bishop replied: "Well, I think what happened happened. It was not considered a crime or a criminal activity so there was no reason for me not to transfer him." Really, Imesch? No reason? How about cooperating with the police? How about the fact that his transfer of Gibbs interrupted an ongoing investigation? John Rotunno, then an investigator for the DuPage Co. State's attorney, was trying to build a case against him. He expected the cooperation of the diocese, but instead he got this. "I went to the rectory to pick him up, and they said he had been moved and they would not give me one iota of information about him." Diocese officials repeatedly refused to return his phone calls, he said. "I told them I was an investigator from the DuPage County state's attorney's office and that it was in regard to Father Gibbs," Rotunno said. "They never called me back." With Gibbs gone and the diocese not cooperating, the investigation ended and no charges were filed. Until he did more sick stuff, of course. Then some new charges were filed.

Even without convictions, that type of behavior is the sort of thing that should have ended the careers of both Gibbs and Imesch. You don't have to be convicted of a crime in order to lose your job, you know. You can lose your job for doing something like being chronically late. It's not a crime you can be convicted of, but you can sure get fired for it. You can get fired from a lot of jobs for being bad with people and giving them a bad customer experience. It's certainly not a crime, but it can and should get you fired if you're chronically bad in that area. Likewise, transferring a priest in the middle of an investigation and refusing to cooperate fully with the police might not have gotten Imesch convicted for obstruction of justice, but it is part of a disturbing pattern of behavior that's far worse than being chronically late. He should have lost his job, and there's no way in hell that he should have been allowed to retire on his terms. Just look at Joe Pa and the way he lost his job yesterday. He failed to go to the police with the info he had; all he did was inform his superiors. But did Penn St. grant his wish to let him finish out the current season? Hell no! That's not how it works when a board of directors has a good sense of when to fire someone. They may have tarnished his iconic memory and legendary career, but that's what you do when you're doing things right.

Needless to say, the CC is still doing a lot of things wrong.