August 19, 2018

Sunday School 8/19/18

I ducked into two classrooms today, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, to hear from the Bishop of Pittsburgh, and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to hear from Mick "pay me and I'll listen to you" Mulvaney, Trump's Budget Director and head deregulator of the CFPB.

If you're interested, you can check out Chuck Todd's interviews with former CIA Director John Brennan and with Rudy Giuliani, if you can stand that last one, on Meet the Press.

I'll start with Mulvaney, who was on the show to tell us that things with the economy will continue to be great. For example, when asked to talk about changes from the Congressional Budget Office on the sustainability of Trump's economic growth,he said the people who challenge the numbers have a "vested interest" in seeing Trump fail. And, he explained, what the Trump administration has done - deregulation, and taxes, are not a sugar high. 
It's fundamentally changing the way we create wealth in the country.
No one can disagree with him on that, I don't think. It's true that corporations, their executives, and their shareholders have seen a terrific boom from the changes that have occurred; much less so, from everything I've seen, for the people who work for the companies. Here's just one article talking about wages and inflation, which notes that buying power hasn't really moved in decades.

You can read the rest of what he had to say, about the upcoming budget negotiations, Trump's now cancelled military parade, and more in the link above.

Moving on to the horrific report that some 300 priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused more than 1,000 victims over some seven decades, we hear from Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, who has been the bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese since 2007. He began by offering three key messages:
First of all we need to have a - a deep sense of empathy for all the victims who have suffered so much; as I apologize to them we need to continue with looking for efforts to help their lives become better.
Second of all, I can well understand the rage that people have in reading this report. I feel that rage  as well too. 
And third of all, I want to offer my support to the very faithful priests and deacons who served our people so faithfully.  
He was less charitable, if that's the right word, about allegations of a cover-up. He said there wasn't one in Pittsburgh, that all allegations were turned over to the appropriate authorities and that they have responded to every allegation in the report, and those responses are public.

Stephanopoulos referenced a specific item from the report that suggested a cover-up involving Zubik, including a confidentiality agreement.
It says the testimony of the victim of Monsignor Raymond Schultz who testified that he was abused or raped 10 to 15 times, and he describes a meeting with you (Zubik) where you offered to pay for college tuition for his children, counseling as well.
But the victim says he refused the offer because the Diocese followed up and said this - I want to put it up on the screen - "you're going to have to meet with our lawyer and sign these documents that basically said you are done with, you can't come after us, it's over, no public, your mouth is closed."
Zubik denied the suggestion of a cover-up.
No, I think first of all, George, that was an allegation that was brought forward after the person who was alleged to have committed the abuse was in face deceased. I think that we have taken a position, the Diocese of Pittsburgh since 2002, not to do any confidentiality agreements. But we needed to be able to assert whether or not the alleged behavior did in fact occur.  And that was part of the discussion that took place in that particular case.
Next, Stephanopoulos asked Zubik about comments from the Survivors of the Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), show below, and he asked for Zubik's response.
(SNAP) is calling for tough action against your diocese. It says Catholics should stop donating to Bishop Zubik's diocese until he steps down or takes proven steps to protect kids. Such a boycott may be the best way to cut through the persistent denial of Pittsburgh's church hierarchy. 
Zubik disagrees.
I want to go back to when I became the bishop of the diocese of Pittsburgh in 2007. I can honestly say that we have followed every single step that we needed to follow to be responsible in our response to -- to the victims. First of all, we've listened to them carefully. Second of all, we've removed priests from ministry. Third of all, we have in fact turn it over to the district attorneys of the appropriate counties. Fourth of all, we have engaged the independent review board to assess and take a look at the allegations and whether or not a person would be suitable for ministry again.  
And we have in fact informed the - the people in our parishes about those allegations as well as put our press releases accordingly. So I think that that behavior and the steps that we've consistently taken since 2007 really works against SNAP's calling for my resignation.
Asked what he'd say to the many Catholics who feel betrayed by the church hierarchy,  Zubik focused mostly on the past, with a nod to the future.
We have to be able to to continue to look at the things that -- that we have done to really correct the issue. The church of Pittsburgh today is not the church that's described int he grand jury report. And if I could indicate, you know, starting with - with 1988 when Bishop Wuerl became bishop of Pittsburgh, one of the first acts that he had to confront was an abuse of two brothers by three priests. He was very passionate about addressing... sexual abuse. 
And what happened is that we began to develop stringent policies around sexual abuse. He was very direct with the priests in 1988 to tell them if they knew anything they had to come forward. We established an independent review board to assist the bishop to be able to assess allegations. Fourth of all, we established a diocesan assistance coordinator. It was a position that - that meets specifically with victims. 
And we both first encouraged people who were victims to go forward to report their allegations and then we followed up on that as well, too. Those were some of the things that we've done in the past to try to -- to show people that we had been doing things over the course of the years. And we can't stop there.
We have to look for new ways to be able to eradicate sexual abuse in the church, but to work together with all of society to eradicate from society in general. 
Wuerl, now the Archbishop of Washington DC and a key ally of Pope Francis, is facing calls to resign after the grand jury report said he had shielded abusive priests; a petition to remove his name from a prominent Catholic school the the Pittsburgh Diocese has gotten over 6,000 signatures, aiming for 7,500 as the next threshold.  He has withdrawn as a speaker at a conference in Ireland.

Zubik has admitted "a few priests" named in the report are still in the ministry, because the church was not able to substantiate the allegations against them.

See you around campus.