Editorial: The bishop’s failure

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In 1980, Bishop Thomas Daily, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, had the chance to blow the whistle on a priest in Boston who admitted to sexually abusing children. Instead of reporting this admission to the police, Bishop Daily reassigned the priest to another parish, published reports say.

Today John Geoghan, a defrocked Catholic priest, has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy and is accused of fondling as many 130 other young boys. The Archdiocese of Boston is facing 80 civil suits. According to court documents, when Daily was told by a parishioner at St. Thomas Church in Boston that Geoghan had abused her child, Daily replied, “I am not a policeman; I am a shepherd.”

Daily was not alone in his failure to take appropriate action to protect innocent children. Cardinal John Law admitted in a speech last week that he knew that Geoghan was a child molester when he reassigned him in 1984. According to testimony from his victims, Geoghan continued to sexually assault little boys until 1995.

Geoghan belongs in prison. The fact that he took advantage of his position in the church to abuse and intimidate the 10-year-old boy and perhaps many others makes him all the more guilty. Those who facilitated his crime by not reporting him and publicly exposing him share in the guilt.

The first mission of the “shepherd” is to protect the flock. Father Geoghan was a wolf in a Roman collar. Had Daily been told that a pervert was hanging out on the street corner exposing himself to the little children, he would have called the police in a heartbeat. But when he learned that a priest was abusing children, according to court papers, he failed to take the kind of action that would have put this man behind bars.

Today Bishop Daily is the beloved leader of more than 1.6 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens. And in the wake of public scandals around the country, his church is beginning to deal with a problem that was too long swept under the carpet.

For the children who were allegedly scarred for life by Geoghan, all this comes much too late. At best we can hope that the pain and humiliation suffered by decent leaders such as Cardinal Law and Bishop Daily will result in policy changes that will protect children from people who hold positions of public trust.

Editorial: A better Bayside?

It looked high noon on Bell Boulevard. Frank Skala, the town’s resident iconoclast, was ready for a showdown with the Bayside Business Association. In his newsletter, Skala asked the Bell Boulevard shop owners to join his Bell Blvd. Restoration Coalition.

But Judy Limpert, the co-president of the Bayside Business Association, wasn’t ready for a showdown. In essence, she told Skala that this town is big enough for the both of us. “The more people that work for the betterment of Bayside,” she said, “the better off everyone will be.” Them are not fighting words.

Skala is a retired teacher and the founder and president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association. He is an effective organizer who sinks his teeth into a cause like a pit bull. Skala led the battle against the bell Boulevard Street Fair and successfully opposed the Association when it tried to organize a Family Day on Bell Boulevard.

But in 10 years his Restoration Coalition has been nearly invisible. In contrast, the five-year-old business association has already had a positive impact on Bell Boulevard. In fact, the association is hoping to create a Business Improvement District on Bell. This would benefit everyone who lives, works or shops in Bayside.

Limpert has offered an olive branch. Hopefully Skala will accept it and look for ways that both organizations can work together to build a better Bayside.

Updated 7:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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