The unchanging Catholic Church

If you're Catholic and think the clergy sexual abuse scandal is behind you, think again.

Here's a "post"-scandal story of Father Luis Eduardo Ramirez, who was arrested in January in Anaheim for suspicion of child annoyance or molestation and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The city of Anaheim didn't publicize the case, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange -- which fancies itself as being "open and transparent" when it comes to priests who mess around with children -- only placed an item in the church bulletin of the accused priest's church, Our Lady of the Pillar.

As a sexual abuse expert will tell you, the vast majority of molesters have many victims. The idea of being open and transparent is so a) the community is warned and b) other victims can come forward. A single article in a parish bulletin doesn't cut it. What if another victim left the church? Or didn't go to church that Sunday? Or wasn't a member of that parish?

I also love that the priest's religious order bailed him out of jail and allowed him to continue his holy work in a monastery. Actually, putting molesting priests in monasteries is a perfect spot for them -- if they are never allowed to be around children or given leave without a chaperon. But that's not usually the program. If only Catholic leaders who listen to the advice of St. Basil of Caesarea. The fourth (4th!) century priest got so fed up with sexual abuse that he set up a detailed system of punishment to deal with clerics at his monastery who molested boys. Among other punishments, perpetrators were to be flogged and put in chains for six months; they were never again allowed unsupervised interaction with minors.

But the church's reaction to Father Ramirez's arrest tells it all. The church still has two priorities: to protect the institution and to help its brother priests. Nothing else matters. You can't change 2,000 years of culture is a five-year period. The Catholic Church -- and its high-priced PR consultants -- can speak of openness, transparency and caring for the victim first, but that's not how the priest, bishops, cardinals and pope have been trained. Not even more than $1 billion in payouts can change that.

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