|by the Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe
Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church Little, Brown and Company, 2002
Betrayal offers a chilling account of how pedophile priests gained access to the children they would molest. The Rev. John Geoghan became the most infamous example of predatory pedophiles who manipulated their proximity to children, and the trust that their roman collars afforded them, to repeatedly molest the children of low-income, single mothers who naïvely welcomed the priests into their homes. Undoubtedly, these mothers believed that Geoghan would be the father figure that their sons lacked, and more he would instruct them in the ways of the Church. Geoghan’s depravity knew no limits and he indeed instructed his young victims, requiring them to recite their prayers even as he molested them. Profiles of other priests similar to Geoghan, including Paul Shanley, Joseph Birmingham, and Ronald Paquin, reveal individual strategies that varied one from the other. The common denominator is the cold, calculated way these pedophile priests used their socio-religious status in the communities they served to violate the
innocence of their victims.
Perhaps the most disturbing element of this crooked story is how bishops intimidated and threatened victims’ families who confronted the hierarchy in an attempt to remove the pedophile offenders from their parishes. The Church’s desire to avert scandal paved the way for repeat offenders to seek new prey in fresh parishes where unsuspecting parents couldn’t protect their children from the predatory pastors. What’s worse, because the victims’ cases were settled privately out of court and sealed with legally binding hush money, the magnitude of the problem was kept under wraps. That is until the watershed events of 2001 that brought the Church to its knees, as district attorneys all over the country demanded the immediate release of all Church documents pertaining to local priests who had been accused of pedophilia over the last 50 years. Many church officials, particularly Cardinal Egan of New York, resisted the legal demands of the state that chastised the Church for presuming itself above civil law designed to protect the most vulnerable citizens of American society.
At the end of the day, a crisis that had its epicenter in Boston had produced tremors all over the nation. Metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, and New Orleans soon began reporting similar incidents of Church cover-ups. The Globe estimated that more than 1,500 priests over the last 50 years have sexually abused tens of thousands of minors in America alone. What would happen to the Boston Archdiocese would be indicative of a larger trend throughout the United States, and even abroad.
Suddenly, after having dismissed the pedophile crisis as distinctly American, the Pope called for an emergency meeting of the American prelates in an attempt to reign in an increasingly agitated American Church. Many speculate that Law wanted to resign, but was forced to maintain his office by the Pope who feared the creation of a precedent that could be invoked to oust bishops in other dioceses across the U.S.
Shocked to the core by what can only be described as betrayal, the laity of the American Church rose in angry protest to the way the hierarchy, particularly the Vatican, was attempting to usurp the energy of the people by reaffirming the unmitigated authority of the Roman Magisterium. Demanding reform, many Catholics insisted that the Vatican reconsider its stance on a range of issues from the gender-exclusivity and celibacy of the priesthood to the place of homosexuals in the Church. With the same desire for preserving power that led to the sex scandal, the Pope issued orders banning Catholics from coalescing to express dissent with the Church’s teachings and pastoral methods. Harvard Medical School faculty, Dr. James E. Muller, started a group called Voice of the Faithful in Wellesley, Mass., which has gained force and spread to other areas of the country where educated Lay people sharply criticize the Vatican’s culture of orthodoxy. In prosecuting inquisition against groups such as these, the Vatican has struggled to prevent a schism in a Church that is increasingly torn over the possibility of reform, and the manner in which it should be executed.
An undercurrent of dissent has characterized American Catholicism since measures were proposed during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that empowered the laity to participate more fully in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. As the laity’s responsibility for maintaining the Church increases due to the ever-diminishing number of religious, they will expect a greater role in governing the Church. Betrayal offers ammunition to those who counter the Church’s arrogance of power, revealing how the hierarchy’s culture of secrecy reversed the gospel imperative to uplift the weak and humble the mighty: A must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the Catholic Church in America.
—Jude Harmon ’03
|Edited by Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck
Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption, 1720-1920 University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002
Two introductory chapters set the context for this scholarship. Readers who are familiar with the claim by present-day Quakers that “you are likely to receive a different definition of Quakerism from every Friend you ask” will appreciate the difficulty of summarizing Quaker beliefs. Undaunted, Emma Lapsansky finds in this dilemma a complexity and depth that makes the task irresistible. She allows that “Quakerism is steeped in a number of contradictory values: equality and separateness, intellectual preciousness and anti-intellectualism, an emphasis on excellence and a focus on humility, an appreciation for high-quality workmanship coupled with a ban on ostentation (p. 3),” and is curious to see how these play out in the lifestyles of the Quakers described later in the book.
In the second chapter, J. William Frost, professor of Quaker history and director of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, focuses on the writings of George Fox, William Penn, Robert Barclay, Rufus Jones, Amelia Gummere, and others to trace the evolution of “plainness” into “simplicity” in Quaker material culture. According to Frost, the commitment to plainness was a denial of popular social and religious practices in 17th century Britain and America, and included dressing without ornamentation, avoiding use of titles in speech, worshipping without music or programming, living thriftily, and abiding by the peace testimony. He argues that these practices enabled early Quakers to identify themselves to one another and to the broader society. Later Friends, fearing that the distinctiveness caused by these strictures was contrary to the spirit of their faith, advocated living by moderation and utility, i.e. simplicity. By the 20th century, a wider range of personal lifestyles had become acceptable.
With these thumbnail sketches of Quaker beliefs as a backdrop, the remaining nine chapters of Quaker Aesthetics are organized around three topics: Quakers as Consumers – reflected in the furnishings of Quaker households during the late 18th and early 19th centuries; Quakers as Producers – expressed broadly in the architecture of meetinghouses and residences and more narrowly in the ethical and practical struggles of artist Edward Hicks; and Quakers and Modernity – a topic eclectically illustrated by trends in dress, the art exhibits of Sara Tyson Hallowell, and a comparison of present-day interpretations of 18th-century historic sites. The authors represent a broad, impressive range of affiliations with museums, educational, and historical institutions. Each chapter is sprinkled liberally with quotations from original sources and with plates which illustrate details of craftsmanship and style. In short, this book is a rich adventure in history, faith, and material culture.
Quaker Aesthetics will appeal to many members of the Haverford community. It provides a succinct summary of Quaker beliefs for the layperson. It highlights intriguing details about the lives and material culture of prominent Quakers in the Delaware Valley, many of whom have connections with Haverford College. It illustrates the wide range of practices and life choices that fall under the rubric of Quakerism. Finally, it gives us the tools to challenge and interpret our own choices in light of this history. Of course, that leaves me wondering…should I be wearing Quaker gray or Haverford scarlet and black? For further reflections on this and other more serious topics, I highly recommend Quaker Aesthetics!
—Louise M. Tritton
(Resident of 1 College Circle, and
member of Haverford Friends Meeting)