"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blame apportioned

The lay woman who heads the West Side parish school where Rev. Daniel McCormack apparently molested students is up in arms about getting blamed.  Barbara Westrick went on TV last night to complain about Chicago archdiocesan authorities who are making her, she said, a “scapegoat.” 

If she had known what Cardinal Francis George knew when the mother of an apparently abused child came to her, she would have gone to police with the information, she said.  Now one of George’s minions is putting it to her in a letter that she was delinquent in her duty.

She had "either assigned Father McCormack or did not question his teaching math and coaching boys' basketball," the minion, superintendent of schools Nicholas M. Wolsonovich, said in a letter, adding, "These are matters which involve serious omissions in the prudent administration of a school in the protection of students."

But when the mother came to her, the archdiocese already had assigned a monitor to Fr. McCormack, a fellow priest with many duties who was ineffective in the role, perhaps not fully understanding what it required.  Apparently Westrick was not informed of this.  She seems not to have been in the loop and now she is accused of ignoring intelligence to the detriment of her pupils.

Some legal hardball is in progress, it appears.  In addition, the letter and her response expose the archdiocesan bureaucracy, around which Cardinal George has never got his arms, it also appears.  This is the benign interpretation, that he is busy with other things and is not in charge.

At issue also is the openness to contributions from lay people (priests too, probably), who are not in the habit of rattling higher-ups’ cages.  Priests have told me they do their best to have nothing to do with The People Downtown.  Thus be it ever in badly run organizations.  It’s endemic in this case.  The priestly class are lords of the manor — they have their chamberlains and proctors such as Wolsonovich — who hold tightly to their demesne.  So it has been described to me.  In any case, the letter on TV bespeaks distance and formality which lends itself strongly to this interpretation.

2 comments:

Evanston said...

How many of us, as cultural christians, thought that ministers or priests were the holy guys and we did our part by paying them? I, for one, was definitely raised with this attitude. It's hardly a Biblical attitude, but even if you push the Bible aside, it's obvious that ministers or priests or what-have-you have no personal infallibility. Either we look to the Bible and Christ to rely on, or we are lost. I pity the poor lay leader who trusts someone just because he/she has been "called" to be a religious leader. Now she is being burned by the highest levels of the "faith." I pray she doesn't lose her faith, that she re-focuses it on the One who is worthy of our worship and fidelity. With all others, "trust but verify" (oops, not Biblical -- merely from the Reagan Republican library)!

Jim Bowman said...

Well said, within limits. You still need organization and hierarchy. Even the Natl Assn. of Evangelicals has a president. Due deference is in order, but not undue. I consider the archdiocese badly managed. Tom Roeser's life of the last Msgr. Ignatius McDermott has details about McD having to put up with liliputians in high church office.