Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Wick Allison, reportedly good Catholic and publisher of D magazine in Dallas, writes a strong column about his city's bishop

In 1997, when a Dallas jury ruled against the diocese in the first sexual abuse case, the bishop announced he intended to appeal. That would have been a disaster. I went to the elder Jim Moroney [publisher of the Dallas Morning News] to sound an alarm. He not only agreed with me, but also helped form an ad hoc committee. The committee met with the bishop and presented these facts: 1) There would be no appeal. 2) The lawyer who had bungled the case by taking it to trial in the first place, Randy Mathis, would be fired. 3) Monsignor Robert Rehkemper, who had publicly blamed the parents of the molested children, would be removed as pastor of All Saints parish. 4) When the dust had settled, the bishop would quietly step down.

His back to the wall, the bishop seemed to accede. He quashed the appeal, sent Msgr. Rehkemper to the hinterlands, and appointed Haynes & Boone to negotiate a settlement. The announcement of Bishop Joseph Galante as his co-adjutor seemed to pave the way for the final resolution.

But the bishop reneged. Once the heat was off, he decided to stay. He has now announced that he plans to hold on to his office four more years, until he reaches mandatory retirement age.

According to the bishop's logic, I shouldn't comment on this matter because D Magazine has no right to tell the Church what to do. So I won't. Instead, I'll advise my fellow Catholics what to do. Give your money to organizations like the Catholic Foundation, Catholic Charities, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which are independent of the diocese but faithful to the Church. Do not give money that will go to pay legal bills and cover up continuing blunders.

If the bishop thinks he can run this diocese by himself, let him try.

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