Thursday, September 16, 2004

St Blog's "Buzz of the Day"

Yesterday's edition of the Washington Times reported thus:

"At issue locally is the Diocese of Arlington's new policy mandating the fingerprinting of priests, seminarians, nuns, church employees and lay volunteers who work with children. Half of the 394,000-member diocese may be Hispanic, including thousands of undocumented immigrants... Many immigrant volunteers affected by the new policy work in a range of church duties, such as nursery care and chaperoning high school youths, at the 29 churches in the diocese that offer Spanish-language Masses... On Aug 12, Bishop Paul Loverde published a directive mandating up to 15,000 people in 72 parishes and mission churches be fingerprinted and submit to police background checks..."

I attended my first BSA Commissioners meeting last night. A "unit commissioner" typically has one to three units under his wing, to provide a liaison for guidance and support from the local district, which is part of the metro-wide jurisdiction of a council. One of my units (well, okay, right now it's my only unit, 'cuz I'm in training) is sponsored by my parish. That means I will eventually have regular contact with the boys, so I've been told "you've got 180 days" to complete the background check/training procedure.

What's gonna happen when the 180 days run out, I'm not sure. But I'm confident the Vatican doesn't post any Swiss Guards outside of Rome.

I don't have anything to hide, really. For my own part, it's like Father "Dom Jim" Tucker says: "Despite my own dislike of the thing, I have no interest in putting up a fight to keep the bishop from having my fingerprints. He can also have my DNA and a stool sample, for all I care. But what does worry me greatly is the effect that all this is going to have on volunteers." That goes ditto for me, albeit in addition to my impatience with the cabal of chancery paper-pushers who still don't #@$%ing get it. (Note to Father Tucker: I'm almost hoping they ask me for a... well, you know.)

According to Dom at, "Does your 80-year-old Aunt Gertrude teach CCD to toddlers? Fingerprint her like any felon down at the county jail."

But the root of the problem is being sought on the wrong side of the altar rail. Aunt Gertie's not the problem, Father, your clerical colleagues are. That's what's already cost over a billion dollars in legal and other settlement fees. I'll bet you wouldn't have spent the last twenty years transferring Joe Sixpack from one parish to another to deal with "his little problem," now, would you? In all my years of doing volunteer work, I've learned a few lessons. One of them is, when the people who ask for your spare time treat you like they (those who ask) are doing you (those being asked) a favor, it's time to find something else to do with your spare time. If I didn't love Scouting as much as I do, I'd already be out the door.

So I will complete the training -- like the good little obedient, boot-licking, biretta-buffing, ring-kissing Roman Catholic poster boy that I am. But if they've got any ideas about insulting my intelligence, they'd better hope I'm in uniform that day. Can't disgrace the uniform, you know?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: "Several priests in the diocese are refusing to be fingerprinted for privacy reasons and have asked the Vatican for clarification on why they must do so under canon law."

They're lucky nobody in the pews has thought of that -- yet. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like whenever the clergy get in trouble, they find a way to blame lay people and make their lives difficult. I guess I would not object to the fingerprinting per se, but it seems the clergy are the ones who should be under suspicion.