Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm photo courtesy Folksonomy via Wikimedia Commons

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm photo courtesy Folksonomy via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday brought big developments in two ongoing sexual abuse stories: the resignation of Rabbi Norman Lamm as chancellor of Yeshiva University and the revelation that Cardinal Timothy Dolan shielded a pile of cash from legal claims when he was archbishop of Milwaukee.

Lamm’s resignation came six months after the Jewish Forward reported that in late ’70s and early ’80s two senior staff members who had abused students at Yeshiva’s high school for boys were permitted by Lamm to resign and take jobs at other Jewish schools. “If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly,” Lamm told the Forward. “It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry.”

Not that anyone was admitting that the resignation had anything to do with the cover-up. To the contrary, the official version was that it had been arranged for Lamm to step down three years ago. Who knew?

Still and all, in a letter to the Yeshiva community, he did repent for what he had done: “True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong.” And indirectly, he acknowledged that he is in fact paying a price for what he did: “You submit to momentary compassion in according individuals the benefit of the doubt by not fully recognizing what is before you, and in the process you lose the Promised Land.”

So, despite giving himself too much credit for good intentions, and permitting himself some Mosaic self-aggrandizement (no Promised Land), Lamm did the right thing.

This image available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

This image available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Meanwhile, the release of thousands of pages of documents on the handling of abuse cases by the archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that in 2007 Archbishop Dolan obtained the permission of the Vatican to transfer a nearly $57-million cemetery fund off the archdiocesan books and into a special trust. Dolan’s request came just a few weeks before the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a ruling that allowed victims of sex abuse to sue the archdiocese. Seventeen days after the ruling, the Vatican approved the request.

In addition, the released documents revived the story that Dolan had provided priests accused of abuse with $20,000 payments to induce them to request to be laicized, thereby hastening the process in Rome.

Dolan’s response, which he posted on his blog, was characteristically defensive.

Unfortunately, we have already seen how the release of these documents will cause some to raise old and discredited attacks – like priest-abusers having been “paid” to apply for laicization, (like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on) or  that establishing a perpetual care fund from money belonging to cemeteries and designated for that purpose – as required by state law and mandated by the archdiocesan finance council – was an attempt to shield it from the bankruptcy proceedings.

Both claims are, to put it charitably, incredible. Last year, the spokesman for archdiocese told the New York Times, “It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less.” As for the cemetery trust, we have Dolan’s own letter to the Vatican stating that the purpose of the transfer was “an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”

What is the moral of this tale?

Both Lamm and Dolan are powerful religious figures. But in their own bailiwicks, Lamm is answerable to a board of trustees and Dolan is answerable to no one — except the Vatican. And to date, the Vatican has manifested no standards, procedures, or appetite for disciplining hierarchs who behave improperly in abuse cases — even if, as in the case of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, they have been convicted of covering up abuse in civil court.

If Pope Francis is indeed serious about cleaning up his Church, there can be no higher priority than to turn this situation around.

29 Comments

  1. (National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Kris Ward)

    “Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter to the Vatican asking permission to transfer $57 million from the cemetery fund to a trust fund as the archdiocese moved toward filing for bankruptcy included the then Archbishop Dolan persuasive phrase for his request, “By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” Within a month the Vatican agreed” (National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Kris Ward).

    Is this bankruptcy fraud?

  2. Chances are that this too shall pass for Timothy Cardinal Dolan. There is too much deference to prosecute him. But if it looks, walks, and talks like a duck (bankruptcy fraud), then it probably is.

  3. JohnM,

    Deference indeed; significantly changing this institution will be virtually impossible.

    “Owning up to the mistakes, Listecki said, took a long time because the church only realized that having sex with children was wrong when they looked back upon their actions” (The Guardian-Express).

    What??? As a Catholic I have been getting moral direction from a Church that didn’t know it was wrong to have sex with children!!!!!!

    The current Archbishop of Milwaukee (Listecki) is canon and civil lawyer. A lawyer wouldn’t say something that stupid, would he?

  4. With regard to the issue of standards — and without detracting from the fundamental significance of the sex abuse coverup issue — Professor Silk may wish to look at Lamm’s “discretion” in the wider context of academic ethics at Yeshiva University.

    For example, YU’s current vice provost, while still the chairman of the NYU Jewish Studies department (a position from which he resigned to assume his current post at YU), testified in a court of law that “nobody reads” the NYU faculty code of conduct, and that he had no idea how that code defined plagiarism.

    YU’s vice provost (again, at the time a department chairman at NYU) further testified that the allegation by an Israeli journalist that he had adopted portions from the theory of another author and presented them as his own without appropriate credit constituted not an allegation of “impropriety” or of “plagiarism,” but merely of “too few footnotes to a guy.” One wonders if these statements reflect the ethical standards and attitudes of YU’s current administration, where these allegations of “too few footnotes” have been ignored, rather than addressed by any investigative body. For further information and commentary, see:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/from-the-trial-testimony-of-nyu-officials-and-related-texts/

    http://ronntorossian5wpr.tumblr.com/post/41858790841/does-yeshiva-university-answer-to-a-higher-authority

    Incidentally, see also this account of how the same vice provost of YU recently had letters sent to various legal experts, including Prof. Eugene Volokh of UCLA, demanding that they remove certain material, apparently critical of him, from their websites:

    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2013/03/13/schiffman-meet-streisand.aspx

    Was Rabbi Lamm even aware of these efforts and statements by the vice provost of his institution? Does YU’s current president, Richard Joel (who is a former prosecutor) support the attitudes they seem to reflect? All of this seems to point (at best) to an ongoing laxity in ethical standards at YU, and it is hard to see how the “apology” or “repentance” of Dr. Lamm could possibly have any impact on the situation.

    Furthermore, YU president Richard Joel’s own ethical standards are a topic of considerable interest, as can be seen from items such as the following:

    http://tzvee.blogspot.com/2008/12/yeshiva-university-gave-president.html

    http://thebeaconmag.com/2011/01/news/article-discussing-president-joels-salary-creates-questions-controversy/

  5. All of this indignation would count for something if it wasn’t so selective. Deference for Cardinal Dolan? How about showing some deference to the kids abused by public school teachers, doctors, coaches, etc… The only reason the attorneys are peeved at Dolan is because the money he hid wasn’t available to them, the kids be damned. State legislatures across the country do essentially the same thing by passing laws that limit the amount of money available to victims of state employees to amounts so pathetically low that lawyers can’t be found interested in pursuing legal action, and limiting the statutes of limitations so that a kid abused in September is too late to file charges against a teacher come June. If what Dolan and Lamm did was unethical, they should be held accountable by their respective religious communities. If illegal, they should be held accountable by the civil authorities. But, let’s not pretend that the lawyers and state legislatures who pursue Dolan and Lamm give a hoot about the kids. When they show an interest in going after ALL abusers, then I’ll be convinced. But, I’ve not seen that yet, and neither has Mr. Silk or anyone else commenting here, because it isn’t happening. Bottom line: if you’re going to be abused in Milwaukee or New York, arrange to be abused by a priest or rabbi, cause anybody else and the authorities and the press won’t care.

    • I didn’t read Mr. Silk to say that lawyers and state legislators do what they do because they care about the children that were harmed.

      I am not a lawyer, a member of the media or a legislator of any kind and I think Dolan’s behavior is disgraceful, immoral and probably illegal. His defensive rationale sounds like that of a politician or corporate executive and not a religious leader.

      The clergy that abused children are criminals and the bishops that covered up their crimes share in their culpability.

      I don’t know about the lawyers’ motivation, but many lay people are outraged because some bishops have shown themselves to be lying hypocrites, complicit, at least, in crimes agains children. Should we moderate our anger because other people did the same thing and haven’t been held accountable? Is this a variation of the “everybody does it” defense? Should we feel better because only a small percentage of children were violated compared to the number of children in the world? Does it make the crimes less horrendous because the lawyers are in it for the money?

      • “The clergy that abused children are criminals and the bishops that covered up their crimes share in their culpability.”

        Then the civil authorities should try them and incarcerate them if found guilty. No one’s disputing that. No one’s accusing Dolan of covering up abuse. He’s accused of hiding money so that it wouldn’t be available for penalties. If that’s the case then, yes, he acted no better than any other corporate executive. Is it legal? I don’t know. If so, well, there you go. If not, then he should be prosecuted by the civil authorities.

        “Should we moderate our anger because other people have done the same thing and haven’t been held accountable?”

        No, we shouldn’t moderate our anger. But, neither should our anger be selective. And, perhaps it should be a bit more proportional. As state laws stand, monetary penalties available to kids abused by teachers are limited to extremely low amounts. Laws passed in CA, and proposed in CO and NY, remove the statute of limitations on abuse, but only by employees of private organizations, not public ones, thus exempting the schools. Why? Are kids abused by teachers less victims than those abused by priests? Our laws would suggest so. And, remember, these are OUR laws, not some mystic rules from on high. We’re the ones ultimately responsible for the fact that kids abused by teachers have very few options available to them, and the teachers have their abuse covered-up and transferred to other districts.

        The fact is: according to independent audits, the number of cases of priests abusing kids were in the hundreds in the 1970′s, while the average number of cases in the last ten years was seven. That means the reforms adopted by the Church have been incredibly successful. At the same time, professional estimates are that tens of thousands of kids across the country are abused by employees of the public schools every year, and NO serious effort at reform have been adopted. In other words, we’re still focused on a house that’s simmering, while we ignore the one next door that’s engulfed in flames.

      • Look at it this way, Ted. People are outraged that Cardinal Dolan hid $57 million so that it wasn’t available for penalties to victims of sexual abuse and their attorneys. But, the legislatures and governors of the various states, including yours, have done the same thing via legislation. By limiting the amounts victims can legally receive in compensation, they’ve cut off state funds for them.

        People are angry at Dolan at Dolan because it’s the Church’s money, and they don’t care about the Church’s money. But, if $57 million had to be taken from your state’s school budget to pay penalties to sex abuse victims (40% of which go to their attorneys), the outrage would be through the roof. People would demand that teachers be fired, principals be fired, school board members and superintendents resign, etc… It may, heaven forbid, even cause a few legislators and governors to be voted out of office. The state, YOUR state, has relieved you of the need to feel this outrage by simply legislating limits on victim compensation to such palsy amounts that no lawyer would be interested, so few cases actually make it to court.

        So, keep your anger toward Dolan. Only spare a bit for your governor and state representatives. After all, while the Catholics in Milwaukee had no voice on the matter of who their bishop was, at least you got to vote for your gov, reps, and school board members. The teachers in your state who abuse are YOUR abusers.

    • Nurse Bob you stated; “All of this indignation would count for something if it wasn’t so selective. Deference for Cardinal Dolan? How about showing some deference to the kids abused by public school teachers, doctors, coaches, etc…”

      Bob, there’s a big between the RCC and other child sexual abusers. The RCC and NAMBLA are the only global organizations I know of that conspired on a worldwide basis to cover up child sexual abuse.

      Furthermore, as bad a Dolan is, he at least requested JPII to remove some pedophile priests. JPII never did it, but he’s likely to be declared a saint this year. My opinion is that this sainthood action is subterfuge. Anything to detract form the moral turpitude within the RCC is useful. The Church operates more like a corporation than a religion. BP and the RCC’s PR men are at work 24×7. By the way, these priests were removed when B16 came to power.

      • “the only global organizations I know of that conspired on a worldwide basis to cover up child sexual abuse.” (who-zat)

        Gosh – you seem to have forgotten to mention the bought and paid for ‘free press’ – and their massive coverups of Racist Homo-Anal Rape of toddler age Boys by Icons of ‘tolerance’, and compliance with other demands of the Gaystapo Censors:

        Lets See – Virtually Every Demicrat Politico in the State Had a wall full of ‘Grip & Grin’ / Handshake & Group Hug’ Photos – featuring them and the rest of the Larry Brinkin Posse from Frisco – with Larry now edited ‘out’.

        Leading California gay rights leader arrested over child porn possession http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/leading-california-gay-rights-leader-arrested-over-child-porn-possession?
        http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2012/07/09/ted_haggard_larry_brinkin_and_glaring_media_bias/page/full/

        “NO SHAME” http://cal-catholic.com/wordpress/2012/06/27/no-shame/

        SB 48 by State Senator Mark “Kiddie Porn King” Leno http://www.humanevents.com/2006/02/03/californias-fight-over-jessicas-law/.
        - forbids Any Fact or View that “Reflects Adversely” on the agenda of MISANDRY (Separatist / Exterminationist Hatred of Men, Masculinity and Normal Heterosexuality) – No Matter how True http://savecalifornia.com/harvey-milk-day.html.

        The Governot of CA – ‘Der Arnold’ was Blackmailed over his ‘secret’ Extra Son, while Still in Office – and as Part of the Payoff threw Marriage under ‘Der Bus’ by refusing to defend the Constitution – , and kept “$5 Smidgen – Carole Migden” in the Pork – http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?xid=zeee95vre99rvl.

        The University of CA Manufactures its own Sex Crimes – to beef up the bank accounts needed for embezzlement
        Jail For UC Davis Embezzler
        http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4261%3Aucd-official-cops-plea-in-embezzlement-case-faces-probation&Itemid=100

        Only Certain “Kiddie Porn” gets reported on – depending on who the “Kiddie Porn Kings” are http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Prison-for-nonprofit-leader-in-child-porn-case-3443779.php

        The ‘Gov. Lt.’ (former Frisco Mayor Gravid Nuisance) was having it off with a Female Subordinate, married to his campaign manager, and still got elected.
        http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/AIDE-QUITS-AS-NEWSOM-S-AFFAIR-WITH-HIS-WIFE-IS-2652745.php

        And as a sign of ‘tolerance’ – Male Citizens are Banned from the Public Streets during the Annual Tax Subsidized / Government Supported Anti Male Hate Riot that Gridlocks the City — known (but Now Totally Censored by the Lamesteam Media) as the SF DYKE MARCH:

        Men told not to rain on parade Unity key to Dyke March / 50,000 expected at S.F. Dyke March 50,000 expected — men not advised.
        http://www.sfgate.com/politics/joegarofoli/article/Men-told-not-to-rain-on-parade-Unity-key-to-Dyke-2746314.php

        And nobody in the bought and paid for ‘free press’ can seem to Find these Scandals – let alone report on them.

        Yeah, Right – I suggest the lamesteam media pull the other one, it has bells on it.

        “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

      • “There’s a big difference between the RCC and other child sexual abusers.”

        Really? You really meant to say that? I suppose all of the kids abused by their teachers, coaches, doctors, etc… ought to feel better because, hey, at least they weren’t abused by members of a global cover-up.

        The RCC is a global organization, but that’s a far cry from saying there was a global cover-up. I know, I know … it’s the Catholic Church, so everything that happens in a rectory in Des Moines is immediately known in the Vatican by way of secret cameras and other devices.

        Actually, there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the popes in Rome or higher ups in the Vatican were involved in a cover-up. Remember, the NY Times tried desperately to find the evidence of such a cover-up and finally had to grudgingly admit there was no evidence. Neither Anderson or any other attorney has been able to provide such evidence, either. Yes, they were slow in believing the extent of the problem and slow in allowing priests to be removed from ministry, but there is a process. Unlike the court of public opinion, accused priests (even priests) are innocent until proven guilty.

        You want to know what I think? I think the reason people don’t give a rat’s patooty about teachers who abuse and the cover-up that protects them is because they’re OUR abusers. Our taxes pay their salaries. Our legislators pass the laws that allow their abuse to go unpunished. Our school boards create the policies that allow them to be moved from one district to another, so they can continue to abuse. It’s okay to focus on priests, because they belong to that corrupt, foreign, mysterious RCC. But our teachers, they belong to US.

        According to independent auditors, there were hundreds of cases of abuse by priests in the 1970′s. Over the last ten years, there’s been an average of seven per year. If any other organization had initiated reforms that successful, everybody would be imitating them. But, because it’s the RCC, no one reports about the progress, and no one reports about that fact that the schools have done NOTHING to reform a system where abuse is rampant and cover-up the norm. Pathetic!

    • All you have to do is read the last sentence of this post to figure out the authors only concern is power. He could care less about the people hurt. Its always about changing what the church teaches especially regarding sex and abortion. What exactly does the author believe that Card Dolan was “really” trying to achieve by giving bad priests an incentive to leave the church??? Was Card Dolan giving them some sort tip? I thought liberals were supposed to be broad minded and provide people with the benefit of the doubt if there was any question??

      Unfortunately, there is abuse all throughout the US by teachers, professionals and even clergy with and without oversight boards. The problem is the oversexualized culture. and are we allowed to mention the vast majority of this abuse happened to be homosexual in nature?

      As far as the cemetery nonsense, Card Dolan was paying money to provide a service to the church. This isn’t fraud. He wasn’t hiding money in a swiss bank account so he could go gambling and yachting across the med.

  6. When an individual or an entity who has filed for bankruptcy holds funds as a fiduciary for others, those funds are generally excluded from the funds available to creditors. This is a general principle of bankruptcy law. Mr. Silk characterizes Cardinal Dolan’s response as “incredible”, but it also has the virtue of being true. State laws do generally require churches to maintain funds in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of those who have purchased a space in that cemetery in order to assure their perpetual care, and those funds cannot be used by the fiduciary for any other purpose.

    Additionally, canon law does require a bishop to provide sustenance to priest, until such time that the is removed from the clerical state. The recent Wall Street Journal article on the recent release of the documents from Milwaukee show that then Archbishop Dolan was trying to move expeditiously to remove these priests; however, he had no discretion to deny such support until these cases where adjudicated.

    The horror of what has happened to victims of clerical sexual abuse has put a special burden on the church to provide assistance and to make moral and financial reparation to those victims. However, the cause of justice is never served by those responsible to make such reparation from ignoring their other obligations under the law. This is no cover up.

  7. Maurice Lorenz

    Could someone please explain in unemotional terms why it was immoral for Dolan to transfer funds, assuming the primary purpose was to shield them from abuse lawsuits? This was a financially responsible decision. If there’s any moral arguement to be made, let’s admit that these funds were at risk of being taken from thousands of ordinary parishoners who had no guilt or part whatsoever in the abuses.

  8. Maurice Lorenz,

    I am not a lawyer, but I hope to hear from one soon regarding the legality of Dolan’s transfer of funds.

    If I had a million dollars in the bank, and also had knowledge that a year from now I would be going into a nursing home, can I legally transfer that money (making me indigent) to my son? I transferred the money to prevent the nursing home from getting it?

    That’s a financially responsible decision for me, but I also believe that it would be illegal. Do you think that my transfer of the money to my son would constitute fraud? Do you see a parallel between what I did with the money, and what Dolan did with the money?

  9. NurseBob you stated; “The RCC is a global organization, but that’s a far cry from saying there was a global cover-up. I know, I know … it’s the Catholic Church, so everything that happens in a rectory in Des Moines is immediately known in the Vatican by way of secret cameras and other devices.”

    Please define “immediately”? These matters are certainly not known by the Vatican immediately (at least most of the time). Remember, it took a full five weeks for the Vatican to approve Dolan’s request to transfer funds to the cemetery trust. That request must have sent to The Holy See by ship.

    Come on Bob; I’ve been in two major seminaries and a religious order, and I know that the higher up you go the more you know. If it not a global cover-up, please cite one major country that hasn’t been affected, and don’t cite Israel, or Saudi Arabia. Israel would imprison and/or deport a pedophile priest; Saudi Arabia would would put a scimitar to his neck in a public square.

    Bill Donohue, do you use NurseBob as your pen name in an effort avoid overexposure?

    • If you have evidence that the pope and the Vatican were involved in the cover-up of abuse by priests, please provide it. Nobody else has been able to find it, so it would be an impressive accomplishment on your part. Also, your seminary and religious order experience mean nothing to me (been there, done that), other than it should have disabused you of anti-Catholic stereotypes like the pope being personally involved in the daily decisions of priests. Besides, haven’t you heard that the new meme is that the pope and Vatican are clueless?

      Mr. Donahue lost my confidence on this issue with his defense of Bp. Finn and Abp. Meyers, both of whom should have resigned in disgrace. That they haven’t demonstrates the arrogance and cluelessness that remains among too many bishops.

  10. Mark Silk

    Thanks for a lively and informative discussion. I would only make a couple of points. First, by holding themselves out as moral authorities and presuming to interpret God’s will, religious leaders have, it seems to me, a particular responsibility to behave better than, say, school superintendents. The Hebrew prophets and Jesus provide set the standard in Western culture for denouncing hypocrisy in religious leadership. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that anyone with high moral standing and prominence in the community will draw such attention, whether or not in religious leadership. Case in point: Joe Paterno.

    • Mr. Silk,

      I don’t think anyone disputes that it’s natural to expect better behavior from religious leaders than school superintendents, though I would wager that the great majority of those superintendents can be found in some sort of Christian church on Sundays. But, you seem to be missing my point. I would argue that the whole purpose of bringing attention to the sex abuse crisis is, ultimately, to protect the children.

      Experts who do the math on this issue document that, over the last ten years, an average of seven children a year have been abused by Catholic priests in the U. S., while an average of 29,000 children a year are abused by employees of the public schools in the U. S. As well, there has been little effort to reform the public schools. I would argue that the chief reason there has been little effort to reform the public schools is because there has been little outcry over the issue of abuse by public school employees.

      Certainly, one of if not the major reason the Catholic Church was compelled to reform on this matter was the moral outrage and outcry that accompanied revelation of the scandal. Apparently, those reforms have been remarkably successful. So, why the silence on abuse in the public schools?

      Is this story about reporting on the hypocrisy of religious leaders, or is it about protecting the children? Again, we continue to focus on a house that was on fire and is now smoldering, while essentially ignoring the house next door that’s engulfed in flames. Why? Because the smoldering house is more interesting from the religious hypocrisy angle?

      • Sorry I clicked the “Report Abuse” by accident.

        Bob, you stated, “…we continue to focus on a house that was on fire and is now smoldering, while essentially ignoring the house next door that’s engulfed in flames.”

        The house you speak of is not smoldering; in fact the Church just called in another alarm. Why do you think JPII will be declared a Saint this year? It’s called subterfuge, but it’s too late! The priest pedophiles, and the bishops who covered for them have been outed, and continue to be outed. The organization is corrupt right to the top, and anyone who has been paying attention knows it.

        • “13″

          Your extremism on the matter (JPII canonization = subterfuge; Church corrupt bottom to top) is no more helpful than a willful refusal to recognize and act on the problem.

          • Bob, We will just have to agree to disagree.

            Gerald Kleba wrote the following: “I have been a priest for 46 years working with children, writing stories of love and trust. I remain a priest because, although I am angry at the hierarchy who close authoritarian ranks and hurt our church, I believe there are more of those stories to be written, and I stake my future on the belief that with God, all things are possible.”

            “When trust is lost, no one knows how to restore it. And no institution has betrayed trust so blatantly as the Catholic church, where the lies and cover-ups are traceable to the highest echelons of the hierarchy, including the Vatican. Now that we have seen American cardinals among those assembled in Rome for the election of a pope, I am angrier than ever. Some of these men are directly responsible for the crisis that has resulted in keeping me and other priests from having warm, healthy relationships with young people” (NCReporter).

            http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/i-am-angry-priest

    • First, bishops don’t interpret “God’s will” they communicate the Catholic Faith which is a REVEALED religion. That is a key distinct. God’s will is a kinard. Since anyone can name it, anyone can interpret it. The Catholic Faith was revealed in space and time. Either Christ came or he didn’t. Either he called 12 disciples or he didn’t. Either he died to forgive sins or he didn’t. Either he commission the 12 to teach, forgive and sanctify or he didn’t. You can accept or reject these revelations but interpreting them is just a fancy way to say you are going to rationalize your choice in order to satisfy your will.

      Second, if the prof was responsible for as many people as Card Dolan and had to make as many decisions in as many gray areas as Card Dolan, I am sure after 30 years we could all pick over those decisions and start casting aspersions. Why this should diminish the principles that the Prof or Card Dolan have purported to be true, less true, I have no idea. Is it more likely that unborn children magically appear out of thin air because Card Dolan made a bad decision in Milwaukee?

      Third, the prof keeps missing the point of Jesus’ denunciation of hypocritical religious leaders. Jesus’ rebuke is not aimed at revealed truth or the absolute dignity of each person. Jesus’ point is not that we should ignore these things, follow our own opinions and get lost in a sea of moral relativism. Jesus’ hope is that by rebuking the hypocritical religious leader, both us and the leader will all focus EVE MORE INTENTLY on what the leader is supposed to profess: the absolute dignity of each person in their entirety. (not just their will, sorry liberals).

  11. Mark, you really opened up quite a discussion with this post. Thanks. It was stimulating.
    Tony, take a look at the work of Professor James D. Tabor on Jesus and Paul. Fascinating stuff that he’s found through archeology and bibilical exegesis, espeically the Talpiot and Patio tombs as signs of the belief of early Jewish Christians. http://jamestabor.com/articles/

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