In the past week or so, the outright mean, un-Christian-like actions of two bishops, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen have been all over the news. If you have time, you should write or call both of them and ask them to apologize for their actions that have harmed innocent people.
First, there was Cardinal O’Malley firing a janitor, a pastor, a school principal and a second-grade teacher because the janitor used the same bathroom that an elementary school student used and no one reported the fact that no crime and nothing inappropriate happened to police and church authorities. Then there is Bishop Bootkoski publicly defaming a teacher for posting comments on her personal Facebook page that defend Church teachings about marriage and homosexuality, then trying to cover-up the fact that his attorneys told the teacher’s family she was being let go from the school because of this.
We will get to Bishop Bootkoski in a separate post. The situation with Cardinal O’Malley is downright mean. You can read the full story at The Media Report, and we quote from an excellent Pewsitter editorial for a short version of the story:
According to The Media Report, an injustice has been done to the administration and staff of a working-class Boston area Catholic school. Apparently there’s been a group firing just because a tenured custodian went to the bathroom before a child walked in afterwards. This sounds like a brand new low in punishing innocent Catholic employees.
Has anyone noticed that we are living in the totalitarian state they used to warn us about in school and science fiction?
In a way it was inevitable: After years of media hysteria over the issue of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Church officials have now decided on a policy of “shoot first, ask questions later” when it comes to even the scantest allegations of impropriety.
In January of this year, in an astonishing act of injustice, Boston’sCardinal Seán O’Malley forced the resignations of three individuals from a Catholic school in Revere, despite the fact that no one broke any law or did anything wrong.
If it were not clear already, it should be clear now: “Zero tolerance” has now fully morphed into paranoia and cruelty.
A 64-year old custodian went to the restroom just outside his office which he’d been using for 17 years. No boys were in there at the time. The school apparently has an unfortunate rule against adults and children using the same restroom. (There was a time when people understood an adult monitoring a school restroom was a good thing.)
If it wasn’t for such rules and the cruel excuses for making them, mothers like the one in this story wouldn’t be frightened into lodging complaints.
Like many urban Catholic schools, Immaculate Conception School in Revere (on the working-class outskirts of Boston) lacks adequate space, so it had been a “common practice for a number of years” in the school for adults to use the student restroom so long as there was not a student already in there.
Well, at some point at the end of last year, a mother called the school to report that her kindergarten-aged son felt “uncomfortable” walking into the restroom and seeing the school’s 64-year-old custodian using a urinal. (The restroom was just steps away opposite the janitor’s office.) [Addendum, 3/18/15: The Revere Advocate reported in late January that the janitor used the bathroom in question “for upwards of 17 years without incident.”]
At no time did anyone ever report or even suggest that anyone had committed any behavior in the least bit sexual or criminal. Never.
In other words, the boy walked into the restroom and saw what anyone would see if he walked into any public men’s restroom – such as at the theater or Boston’s Fenway Park.
Probably in an effort to comply with insanely strict diocesan policy, the school eventually contacted police. When Cardinal O’Malley was notified, he fired the principal, a parish priest, and a teacher.
The school was at a loss at how to respond to the mother’s phone call, but at some point, someone came up with the idea that the concern should somehow be reported to law enforcement. Big mistake.
Overreacting, Cardinal O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston immediately forced the resignations of three employees of the parish and its school: Father George Szal, the popular parish priest; Alison Kelly, the school’s principal; and an unnamed second-grade teacher.
The Cardinal’s reason for forcibly removing the trio was that the group had somehow failed to report the issue to law enforcement and the archdiocese “in a timely manner.” Shockingly, the archdiocese reportedly gave the three “an ultimatum – resign or be fired.”
Yet even after both local police and the local district attorney investigated the case and discovered that nothing even remotely criminal had occurred, Cardinal O’Malley still would not reverse his impetuous decision. The lives of four innocent people (the trio plus the custodian) would remain tarnished.
It doesn’t add up. Aren’t there enough real scandals in the Boston Church that require action? Is this an attempt to make some zero-tolerance quota? Why sacrifice the innocent?
The Media Report says parents are complaining, but the RCAB is putting their heads in the sand and doing nothing:
Parents at Immaculate Conception School are naturally up in arms over the way Cardinal O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston have handled this incident, and they created a petition with 927 signatures demanding a meeting with O’Malley to address the matter.
Parent Jeffrey Turco, who has three children in the school, has probably summed up this entire episode the best:
“[Archdiocese of Boston officials are] so panicked about how criminally they handled [the priest sex abuse cases] years ago that now they don’t care who they hurt – whether the kids, the parents or three good people, four if you count the custodian.
“The Cardinal and his people ought to stand up and say, ‘Sorry, we’ve made a mistake here in our zeal to protect children.’ However, they’re soarrogant and so stuck in their office complexes in Braintree that I don’t know if they have the fortitude to admit they made a mistake … It’s so un-Christian the way they handled this.”
In typical bureaucratic fashion, over a month later, there has been no response at all from Cardinal O’Malley to the parents’ petition. No letter, no phone call, no email. Nothing.
Cardinal O’Malley fires 4 innocent people at a school for a total non-issue, yet has been publicly silent about a bishop just installed in Chile who covered-up the country’s most notorious pedophile.
Concerned Catholics should contact the following to ask for an apology by Cardinal O’Malley and reinstatement of all 4 innocent people:
Bishop Peter Uglietto: Vicar_general@rcab.org
Cardinal Sean O’Malley: archbishopsean_o’email@example.com