Northeast Times

Letters to the editor: June 27, 2012

Two ver­dicts, a single mes­sage
As I See It
By Marci A. Hamilton
On Fri­day, June 22, 2012, two sys­tems col­lided: the good old-fash­ioned Amer­ic­an justice sys­tem and the till-now un­ac­count­able Ro­man Cath­ol­ic dio­ces­an sys­tem of mis­hand­ling child sex ab­use by priests. It was the first time that a mem­ber of the Cath­ol­ic hier­archy has been held re­spons­ible by the crim­in­al justice sys­tem for the ab­use of chil­dren. The sys­tem spans the globe, and the pat­tern of the cov­er-up is per­sist­ent across dio­ceses. So this lone con­vic­tion mat­ters in all states and even all coun­tries with west­ern-style justice.
The North­east was at the epi­cen­ter of the his­tor­ic tri­al of Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn of the Phil­adelphia Arch­diocese. De­frocked priest Ed­ward Avery pleaded guilty to sexu­al as­sault of a child and con­spir­acy to en­danger chil­dren im­me­di­ately be­fore the tri­al; Lynn was con­victed of en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child in the con­text of Avery’s crimes.  The Arch­diocese knew that Avery had ab­used boys be­fore, but still placed him at Naz­areth Hos­pit­al as a chap­lain, which meant he lived at the rect­ory at St. Jerome’s par­ish. There, he had ac­cess to the vic­tim who test­i­fied against Lynn at tri­al.
On the same date, Penn State foot­ball de­fens­ive coach Jerry San­dusky was con­victed of 45 out of 48 crim­in­al charges for sexu­ally ab­us­ing boys, which he snared through his char­ity Second Mile, and whom he se­duced with the won­ders of the Penn State foot­ball uni­verse. These two con­vic­tions on the very same date turned a single-note mes­sage in­to a chor­us: If you want to pro­tect chil­dren, wake up!
All of the adults in these scen­ari­os bear some re­spons­ib­il­ity for the dev­ast­a­tion of these chil­dren’s lives. The sexu­al pred­at­ors de­serve blame, to be sure, but they can­not op­er­ate to reach so many chil­dren without oth­er adults as­sist­ing them.  It is sheer na­iv­ete or per­sist­ent self-de­lu­sion to try to lay the blame for these sys­tems of ab­use solely or even primar­ily at the feet of the com­puls­ive pe­do­philes.
Their em­ploy­ers are re­spons­ible for the chil­dren in their re­spect­ive uni­verses. In both the Penn State and the Phil­adelphia Arch­diocese con­texts, chil­dren are ex­pressly in­vited. In the Arch­diocese, they at­tend pa­ro­chi­al schools like St. Jerome’s, par­ti­cip­ate in CYO, serve as al­tar serv­ers, and at­tend Mass. At Penn State, they at­ten­ded sum­mer foot­ball camps and worked out and showered in Penn State fa­cil­it­ies. 
The Phil­adelphia Arch­diocese cre­ated the danger for chil­dren by plunk­ing known pred­at­or Avery smack dab in the middle of one of its aren­as where chil­dren were ex­pressly in­vited. Penn State cre­ated the danger by giv­ing San­dusky free rein even after he had re­tired, fol­low­ing the 1998 in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to charges of sexu­al ab­use, and by not re­port­ing oth­er re­ports of ab­use to the au­thor­it­ies. Both in­sti­tu­tions made choices that en­dangered chil­dren.
The par­ents are re­spons­ible for vi­gil­ance with their chil­dren, but un­til re­cently few knew that pat­terns of ab­use ex­is­ted, that chil­dren of­ten don’t tell, and that the men in power they id­ol­ized could sub­jug­ate the wel­fare of chil­dren to the in­sti­tu­tion’s repu­ta­tion.  Many now suf­fer the hell of un­der­stand­ing what was done to their chil­dren. All par­ents in the fu­ture must un­der­stand that they have a re­spons­ib­il­ity of hy­per vi­gil­ance for their chil­dren, be­cause pe­do­philes are mas­ters of ma­nip­u­la­tion and work tire­lessly to ob­tain par­ents’ trust so that they can get their chil­dren alone to ab­use. 
One im­port­ant les­son all par­ents must learn from these ver­dicts is that just be­cause an in­sti­tu­tion in­vites chil­dren does not mean that in­sti­tu­tion is tak­ing full re­spons­ib­il­ity for their pro­tec­tion. Uni­versit­ies every­where host sum­mer sports camps for childen, but have ques­tion­able or no policies for their pro­tec­tion. Penn State is not alone in this scan­dal. The Cit­adel is fa­cing sim­il­ar sum­mer camp is­sues.
The oth­er adults who bear re­spons­ib­il­ity are our elec­ted rep­res­ent­at­ives. The Phil­adelphia Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice stepped up first when D.A. Lynne Ab­ra­ham con­vened the first grand jury to in­vest­ig­ate the arch­diocese’s policies a dec­ade ago. Seth Wil­li­ams has kept the fo­cus on child safety and wel­fare with the Lynn tri­al.
Pennsylvania’s le­gis­lat­ors are also ul­ti­mately re­spons­ible for the wel­fare of chil­dren be­cause they pass the laws that cre­ate the sys­tem of justice. They know full well that the ex­ist­ing stat­utes of lim­it­a­tions for child sex ab­use — un­til re­cently — shut out the vast ma­jor­ity of vic­tims. In the Lynn tri­al, only two vic­tims were with­in the stat­ute.  Evid­ence re­gard­ing 22 oth­ers, whose claims fell out­side the stat­ute, was per­mit­ted, be­cause it was rel­ev­ant to the con­spir­acy charge, but crim­in­al charges can­not be filed in any of  those 22 cases.  Right now, a vic­tim has un­til age 50 to file crim­in­al charges, and un­til age 30 for a civil claim.
What is needed, though, is a win­dow that would per­mit the thou­sands, likely mil­lions, of ex­pired civil claims in Pennsylvania to find their way in­to court.  Ex­pired crim­in­al charges can­not be re­vived un­der the fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion, but ex­pired civil claims can be re­vived and the only way we can catch up on the in­justices the sys­tem vis­ited on vic­tims is through a win­dow. The Cath­ol­ic Con­fer­ence, the lob­by­ist for Pennsylvania’s bish­ops, is ex­pend­ing pa­rish­ion­ers’ dona­tions on fight­ing child sex ab­use vic­tims in Har­ris­burg.  Rep. Ron Marsico tried to block all stat­ute of lim­it­a­tion re­form for their be­ne­fit, but felt the heat enough to re­port out of his House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee a bill that would elim­in­ate the crim­in­al statue of lim­it­a­tions, and ex­tend the civil statue to age 50. Those are great de­vel­op­ments, but they leave the vast ma­jor­ity of ex­ist­ing vic­tims in Pennsylvania with no leg­al re­course. 
As we learned last Fri­day, the justice sys­tem is the best, and of­ten the only, route to child pro­tec­tion.
Marci Hamilton is a res­id­ent of Bucks County; a law pro­fess­or at Car­dozo School of Law; and a law­yer for vic­tims of child sex ab­use.

Chil­dren are be­ing left be­hind at Lin­coln
I’d like to know how the kids at Lin­coln High School are passing. My re­l­at­ive is a 15-year-old boy. He reads at a fourth-grade level, can hardly spell and can’t write in curs­ive. His friend, an­oth­er re­l­at­ive, hasn’t been in school in over eight months. Both boys are passing in­to 10th grade.
The first boy asked his teach­ers, straight out, what if “I don’t do any home­work?” The teach­er said he’ll still pass. He hasn’t brought home a book or done an as­sign­ment all year, and he passed. What is wrong with the school sys­tem? Their new motto, No Child Left Be­hind, rings true. No won­der we’re so low on the list of good edu­ca­tion.
June Blase
Ta­cony

Smart meter wor­ries waste a lot of en­ergy
To state that meters “emit ra­di­ation,” as does your art­icle in last week’s edi­tion, PECO’s ‘smart meters’ raise ire in Somer­ton, is un­ne­ces­sar­ily alarm­ing.
“Ra­di­ation” en­com­passes a wide vari­ety of phe­nom­ena. Ra­di­ation in­cludes, for ex­ample, elec­tro­mag­net­ic ra­di­ation with a wavelength (lambda) of 530 nano­met­ers and a fre­quency of 566 tera­hertz.
Sound fright­en­ing? That’s green light. Ra­dio waves have even less en­ergy.
Howard J. Wilk
Bustleton

Fast for­ward 38 years: It’s not a pretty sight
It’s 2050 and PECO only wished they had listened to the pub­lic out­rage.
Mi­chael Nut­ter is still may­or of Phil­adelphia, serving in his 11th term; he had the city charter changed in 2014, claim­ing it con­fused people, like their real es­tate as­sess­ments.
PECO will be de­clar­ing bank­ruptcy after thou­sands of law­suits em­an­at­ing from their smart meters and re­lated dis­eases that res­ul­ted in the deaths of many Pennsylvani­ans.
In 2050, only 10,000 people re­main in Phil­adelphia. After real es­tate as­sess­ments went to 100 per­cent of mar­ket value and smart meters did their dam­age, few people were left.
This is one story this writer hopes nev­er runs in the North­east Times. But that will be up to you, the read­ers of this news­pa­per. If we act to­geth­er, we can stop any­thing (for ex­ample, the Har­ris­burg pay raise, the city’s DROP pro­gram). If we do noth­ing, we’ll be sheep led to the slaughter.
Please refer to the Amer­ic­an Academy of En­vir­on­ment­al Medi­cine (www.aae­mon­line.org) news re­lease of April 12, 2012 on smart meter in­stall­a­tion and their health con­cerns about elec­tro­mag­net­ic fields (PECO smart meters).
Dozens gathered at the Great­er Bustleton Civic League last Wed­nes­day to listen to PECO; most were not con­vinced that en­ergy costs would go down and people would not get sick.
Please con­tin­ue to call the Pennsylvania Of­fice of Con­sumer Ad­voc­ate at 1-800-684-6560 or go on­line at www.oca.state.pa.us to file com­plaints even if you have the new meter. And call the state Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion along with our elec­ted of­fi­cials.
Myles Gor­don
Bustleton

Tick­et sur­charge is a loser
City Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla’s pro­pos­al for a $4 tick­et sur­charge is over the top. Philly res­id­ents are already be­set on all sides by the Park­ing Au­thor­ity and the “trash po­lice” writ­ing their tick­ets and do­ing noth­ing to fight crime or im­prove the qual­ity of life.
All these agen­cies seem to do is provide jobs for people who couldn’t make it at Mc­Don­ald’s. I doubt these agen­cies take in much more than sup­ports their own bur­eau­cra­cies.
Coun­cil­man Squilla should be more thought­ful about ways to in­crease city rev­en­ues, pos­sibly by ab­ol­ish­ing both these agen­cies and re­turn­ing their en­force­ment man­dates to the prop­er au­thor­it­ies — the po­lice and L&I.
Chris Mark
Frank­ford

Lies and more lies from Uncle Sam
It’s a tragedy when you live on low in­come. The taxes are killing us. The gov­ern­ment just takes and takes. The Sen­ate fights back and forth and we do without. They have a lot of money in their pock­ets, so keep fight­ing and we will do without food, money to pay bills, and hope we have a place to live.
We will vote for the people do­ing without. Why should we vote for you? Lies, lies and more lies!
Gayle A. Not­ali
Lower May­fair

Bish­op calls for ex­pan­ded tax cred­its for Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion
Since the an­nounce­ment by Arch­bish­op Chaput in Feb­ru­ary that St. Hubert’s would re­main open, loc­al le­gis­lat­ors have heard over­whelm­ingly from Cath­ol­ics in Phil­adelphia, es­pe­cially in the North­east, about the de­sire and need for school choice le­gis­la­tion to be im­me­di­ately passed.
At the ur­ging of the arch­bish­op, Cath­ol­ics have called, writ­ten, e-mailed and ral­lied to ad­voc­ate sup­port for ex­pan­ded EITC and school vouch­ers. And in Har­ris­burg, our voices have been heard.
On June 12, House Bill 2468 was in­tro­duced. Its aim is to ex­pand Pennsylvania’s cur­rent EITC pro­gram by $25 mil­lion (rais­ing it from $75 mil­lion to $100 mil­lion) as well as es­tab­lish the Edu­ca­tion­al Im­prove­ment Schol­ar­ship Cred­it (EISC).
Co-sponsored by state Reps. Brendan Boyle, Kev­in Boyle and Tony Payton, this new pro­gram would cre­ate a second pot of “op­por­tun­ity schol­ar­ship” fund­ing — bey­ond tra­di­tion­al EITC — at $100 mil­lion in 2012-13. EISC fund­ing would only be avail­able to stu­dents with­in the bot­tom 15 per­cent of “fail­ing schools” in the state.
If this bill is passed be­fore June 30, it would in­fuse a new $125 mil­lion in­to edu­ca­tion­al school choice for this Septem­ber. Fur­ther, it would be fun­ded by tax-cred­ited con­tri­bu­tions tar­geted to des­ig­nated op­por­tun­ity schol­ar­ship or­gan­iz­a­tions, such as BLOCS in Phil­adelphia, and it would not take funds away from pub­lic schools.
This bill would make a dra­mat­ic and pos­it­ive dif­fer­ence in the lives of stu­dents across the com­mon­wealth. More, it would help to not just sus­tain Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion but grow it. The Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia has more than 28,000 seats cur­rently avail­able in our high schools and ele­ment­ary schools. We wel­come the op­por­tun­ity to give chil­dren who be­ne­fit from the pas­sage of this bill an out­stand­ing edu­ca­tion.
The ad­vocacy of Cath­ol­ics has been crit­ic­al to the in­tro­duc­tion of this bill. Now, in the wan­ing days of this le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion, we can bring this im­port­ant le­gis­la­tion home through our con­tin­ued ad­vocacy.
This is our chance to en­sure that any fam­ily who de­sires a Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion for their child has ac­cess to that in­cred­ible op­por­tun­ity.
Aux­il­i­ary Bish­op Mi­chael J. Fitzger­ald
Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia

Edu­cat­ing Cath­ol­ic chil­dren should be sup­por­ted
Re­gard­ing your June 6 ed­it­or­i­al, Say no to vouch­ers, years ago we sent our chil­dren to Cath­ol­ic schools be­cause they in­cluded God in their pro­grams and we con­sidered it a more dis­cip­lined en­vir­on­ment.
We were pay­ing the same taxes as every­one else. Also, work­ing for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, they sup­por­ted the school sys­tem for all of my chil­dren of school age. We re­ceived noth­ing back on our school taxes. When you speak of pub­lic funds, this also in­cludes Cath­ol­ic fam­il­ies’ tax money, so Cath­ol­ic chil­dren’s edu­ca­tion should be sup­por­ted.
In my opin­ion, “sep­ar­a­tion of church and state” was in­ten­ded to pre­vent such things as the Span­ish In­quis­i­tion, which is im­possible with our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment. Things like that are of a by­gone age. However this is cur­rently be­ing used to ex­clude pray­er from pub­lic schools, re­move re­li­gious-type me­mori­als from pub­lic land, re­move such things as the Ten Com­mand­ments from pub­lic build­ings, and in gen­er­al to re­move God from our so­ci­ety. This is not what was in­ten­ded in the draft­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion.
As far as the money spent in leg­al fees, this is from the church funds, not from the school funds. Cut­ting out school vouch­ers would not pun­ish the few in­di­vidu­als in­volved; it would only make it harder for Cath­ol­ic par­ents to keep their chil­dren in a school sys­tem that can still re­cog­nize God in their cur­riculum — pub­lic schools are no longer al­lowed to do this.
The cost of Cath­ol­ic schools is also less per stu­dent than that of pub­lic schools.
Jim Vaughan
Mor­rell Park

Place­ment of story, ob­it­u­ary was mor­ti­fy­ing
I am writ­ing to ex­press my mor­ti­fic­a­tion of a lay­out in a re­cent edi­tion of your news­pa­per. You had a bold head­line, Arch­diocese dis­misses a hand­ful of priests. Re­port­er John Loftus did a fine job in his sum­ma­tion of the situ­ation, hand­ling it with ac­cur­acy and sens­it­iv­ity. My prob­lem however lies with the death no­tice that was in­cluded on the same page, i.e., Mass to be held for the Rev. Mi­chael Heim
How the death no­tice for this holy, be­loved, and re­spec­ted priest could be on the same page leaves me ut­terly aghast and up­set. I have been a per­son­al friend of Fath­er Mike’s for over 30 years, and this “gentle man” and “gen­tle­man” fought a long and cour­ageous battle against can­cer. A test­a­ment of this holy priest was evid­ent at both his view­ing and Mass of Chris­ti­an Buri­al, where there was barely any room to find a seat due to the hun­dreds show­ing his fam­ily their fi­nal re­spect and con­dol­ences.
Go onto his on­line testi­mo­ni­al page and you will find sig­na­tures from pa­rish­ion­ers all over that Fath­er Mike faith­fully served. This humble man and priest not only wel­comed all to the Lord’s Table, but to any meal he pre­pared and served. My heart aches for his fam­ily when I think they saw these two stor­ies run­ning on the same page.
I am an avid read­er of your news­pa­per, and just felt com­pelled to ex­press my dis­ap­point­ment that Fath­er Heim’s leg­acy needed to be in­ser­ted on the same page of the arch­dioces­an priest situ­ation. Per­haps next time, sens­it­iv­ity to a situ­ation needs to be more care­fully ex­amined pri­or to pub­lic­a­tion. Per­haps it would not be too much to ex­pect that your pub­lic­a­tion send out a pub­lic apo­logy to his griev­ing fam­ily, friends, and par­ish.
Kath­leen M. Mc­Donough
Fifth grade teach­er at St. Wil­li­am School
Mem­ber of Philmont Kiwanis
Fac­ulty li­ais­on for St. Wil­li­am Home and School board

Speak your mind  …
Let­ters should be 300 words or less. Short let­ters have a bet­ter chance of get­ting pub­lished. All let­ters are sub­ject to edit­ing and MUST in­clude the writer’s full name along with day­time and even­ing phone num­bers for veri­fic­a­tion pur­poses. An­onym­ous let­ters will NOT be pub­lished. Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­it­or, North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053. Fax: 215-355-4857. E-mail: pronews@bsmphilly.com

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