Friday, May 24, 2002

The Weakness of Weakland

Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish
It might seem unseemly to pile on to Archbishop Weakland's admission of a $450,000 hush-money settlement he paid to a man whom he allegedly sexually attacked twenty years ago. But here goes. The story of the "date rape" seems extremely hazy and not-so-convincing to me. The real story is that a bishop had a long and difficult affair with another man, eventually found the strength to return to celibacy - but then used the Church's money to buy his former lover's silence. That's the scandal. What this is about is not sex as such. Weakland didn't abuse a minor and, so far as I can tell, committed no crime. That puts this in a different category than the other recent revelations. And the violation of his privacy in this, including the publication of a deeply personal letter, is appalling. But what he did do - and recently - was use the church's money to save himself some bad publicity. Not just any money - but almost half a million dollars! It seems to me that that money was stolen by the archbishop from his parishioners. It must be returned. More and more, these members of the hierarchy seem to think they're immune to even the most basic accountability, that they can use the authority of the Church to buy themselves and their friends and underlings out of trouble. Weakland deserves compassion in as much as he had an adult emotional relationship which he clearly eventually ended. But he should not be excused for abusing the power of his office to rob the Church to protect his own reputation. The problem, as I have tried to emphasize, is not so much the abuse of sex as the abuse of power. And solving that dynamic is exactly what Rome has no intention of doing.


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