Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Outing Cardinal Egan

File this under "ministry suicide": a priest in the New York archdiocese has filed suit, alleging that Cardinal Egan is soft on abusive priests, not because of a generalized "culture of secrecy," but because Cardinal Egan himself is gay, and doesn't want to break up the network.

To his credit, Father Bob Hoatson has apparently done some pretty solid work with abuse victims, as they have begun to come forward. And the Voice article linked above does make it sound as though he has been roughed up a little by the institution he has, inevitably, had to criticize.

But there are a few red flags here, too: Hoatson is, by his own description, a man on a mission -- and men on missions are frequently blinded by their enthusiasm. He also says he's an abuse victim himself, which raises issues about his ability to remain objective when evaluating the stories he must hear. And Hoatson's lawyer has already filed a suit with similar allegations against the Bishop of Albany, who authorized an outside investigation that cleared him. Finally, you have to wonder about people who file a case making dramatic allegations like this, when there is essentially no chance of proving their claims. Even an outsider can guarantee that no credible witnesses will trstify against Egan.

Still, let's assume the worst case: Hoatson is a fanatic, his lawyer is a publicity-hound, nobody testifies, the case falls apart before it ever gets to court. Even if all this is true, it doesn't -- necessarily -- mean that the claims are false. Sometimes you run out into the highway, screaming about the pod people, even though you know that they won't believe you. Not because you think you'll succeed, but because it's your duty as a human being.

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