The day after a New Hampshire lightening bolt dramatically punctuated R.I. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s condemnation of Rudy Giuliani’s position on abortion, Giuliani came to Rhode Island for a campaign handout. Tobin’s remarks had, by then, received national media attention.
Dodging queries about the bishop, Giuliani embraced his supporters who flocked, checkbooks ready, to subsidize his presidential bid.
Will Tobin tighten the net and try to force campaign volunteers to divorce themselves from Rudy? Will he argue that supporters cannot remain Catholics if they work for Giuliani’s election? Will he banish them from the communion rail for ignoring his dicta on abortion?
The overwhelmingly anti-choice Host Committee for the Giuliani fete seemed oblivious to the bishop’s warnings. Perhaps strident pro-lifer and unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Steve Laffey should have practiced obedience, capitulated to his bishop and encouraged other Catholic Giuliani cheerleaders to follow.
Tobin ought to worry about what’s morally wrong in his own office. Since his consecration as bishop, lawyers representing clients alleging sexual abuse by priests have been ignored when they come forward under the so-called Pastoral Program initiated in 2005 by former Bishop Robert E. Mulvey. About 50 cases were processed under Mulvey’s Pastoral Program providing counseling for the victims and cash settlements costing around $2 million. (The original Rhode Island settlements of at least another 38 victims from one legal group alone cost the diocese $14.25 million, and other attorneys had even more settlements after that. Calls to the diocese for an update on the program went unanswered.)
Why does a bishop so fixated on what is morally and dogmatically acceptable when it comes to a woman’s pregnancy options ignore what is moral and dogmatically acceptable on the question of sexual abuse of children by priests?
The Catholic Church and the Diocese of Providence have always been arbitrary in defining who is moral and Catholic and who is not. Heavy donors to Catholic Charities are divorced and remarried with ease while their blue-collar equivalents are banished from the pews. Mafia kingpin Raymond Patriarca was given full burial privileges in a Catholic RI cemetery while a beloved Catholic priest who chose suicide was stripped in his obituary of the title, “Reverend.” Loving relatives were denied the chance to be witnesses at their loved ones weddings, baptisms or confirmations because of one priest’s judgment that they were not worthy. Later that same priest was defrocked for sexual abuse of young people.
Giuliani is a former seminarian, twice divorced and remarried, a public philanderer and proven political slut (Giuliani nominated-- then withdrew -- friend and unscrupulous libertine Bernie Kerik for the nation’s top security job, despite Giuliani’s firsthand knowledge of and alleged commitment to preventing another “9/11.”) Why anyone even considers him a Catholic at this point may be the eighth glorious mystery.
The Catholic Church, which often adopts the Christian symbol of the fish, may, in fact, be deteriorating morally. But even Mr. Patriarca could have told Tobin that the fish still rots from the top down.
- ► 2008 (17)