Jewish World Review May 28, 2002 / 17 Sivan, 5762

Bill O'Reilly

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A Tale of Two Churches | When it comes to alleviating the suffering of the poor, no organization on this earth has been more effective than the Roman Catholic Church. From the disease-ridden streets of Calcutta, India, to the chaos of Africa, to the child-selling villages of Thailand, Catholic clergy and lay volunteers have shown up and are doing good.

It is tragic, then, that the leaders of the Church in Rome are doing so much damage to what is essentially an institution that embraces peace and charity. The good works of thousands are being overshadowed by the pathetic words and deeds of a few.

It is widely known within the church that Pope John Paul II is so ill that he is almost entirely out of the decision-making process. Instead, there are a few powerful "little popes" who surround the pontiff and issue orders in his name.

And the orders right now to American bishops have come down to one thing: Stonewall.

The head of the Vatican Council, Archbishop Julian Herranz, recently delivered a speech castigating the American media, and insisting that bishops should not be required to turn over records on abusive priests to prosecutors.

This outrage was followed up by a Vatican-approved article whereby Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda stated that a child molester priest should not have his "good name" ruined if he undergoes "treatment." Ghirlanda went on to say that bishops should not tell anyone about the abusive priest's past if he is "reassigned."

Clear-thinking Americans should react in horror to those opinions because the Vatican is basically saying that civil authorities and parents have no right to know about a priest who assaulted children in the past.

This is indefensible and, possibly, criminal if acted upon.

The only solution to the problem of a child molester priest is zero tolerance. If an incident is proved, the priest should be defrocked and prosecuted. The church should use lie-detector tests and have review boards comprised of lay people and clergymen to deal with accusations against priests.

There is a danger, of course, that some priests will be falsely accused. The Vatican is correct in saying that its clergy must have some due process before the cops are called. Zero tolerance is only effective if the presumption of innocence is respected.

But polygraph and review board hearings can quickly validate accusations of sexual impropriety. Then it's time for the authorities -- whether Rome likes it or not.

There is no question that the Catholic Church in America is in the midst of its worst crisis ever. According to a recent CBS poll, only 25 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the pope.

And it's the pope's own fault. Although sick now, he has consistently given power over the years to men who are autocratic and unyielding. These are hard men, not princes of the Church in the image of Jesus Christ. John Paul II tolerates no dissent and no reform. He has put the "image" of the Church before all else -- including the welfare of children.

Well, now that image is in tatters. And the arrogant, defiant Rome Clique are determined to defend their reprehensible position, no matter how much damage is done.

The "gates of hell" have indeed besieged the Catholic Church.

Pray they do not prevail.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate