Goodbye, No Touchy!
In today's Arlington Catholic Herald, Bishop Paul Loverde announces the selection of a program for raising awareness of child sexual abuse:
"What has remained clear since the beginning of our dialogue on this issue is the fact that the Diocese of Arlington must continue to strengthen our existing child protection efforts first and foremost by creating new sets of eyes among children’s primary educators – their parents, as well as other adults who have contact with them... To build on this dialogue and the child protection efforts we have made thus far, I am pleased to announce that we will be implementing a nationally renowned sexual abuse prevention program, 'Protecting God's Children,' throughout our diocese beginning this Spring."
It has already been suggested that the good Bishop "spins the facts a bit, putting the diocese in the best possible light and making it look like they cooperated completely with parents."
That may be. And his now-former spokesperson, Catherine Nolan, did manage to lay a sizable public-relations egg
should defend the poor guy at this point, so I will.
As far as I am concerned, Bishop Loverde has done more to listen to the ordinary "man in the pew" than the previous two bishops combined. My experiences with the Arlington diocese, in addressing matters of pastoral concern, have usually been less than positive. Officials have almost always been a little... well, snotty. People like to call this a "conservative" diocese. I would not have used that term. I would have preferred "tight-assed."
Not that they have been incapable of looking the other way over the years, when it comes to certain ongoing irregularities. Like the priest who celebrates Mass as if he were a game-show host, the occasional "peace and justice" charade that leaves concern for the unborn to that other chancery office down the hall, or a "separated-and-divorced ministry" that could eventually get "the Church" sued for malpractice. (Note to whoever's got their shorts in a bind while reading this: Go ahead. Ask me for details. Make my day!) After all, there are priorities to consider. That "game-show" priest is a really groooooovy guy, who keeps the '60s-throwback generation happy, and their checkbooks open.
Besides, what is
orthodoxy without the ability to talk a really good game?
But enough of this rant. While I don't agree with everything that Bishop Loverde has done, I have known of priests whose behavior demanded correction, and during the course of this episcopate, I have been able to walk right through the chancery door and speak to someone who had the bishop's ear. More than once. Eventually I got results. Before Loverde, you would have thought they were doing you a favor just giving you the time of day. Or taking your money every week.
The son of Sicilian immigrants who grew up in a factory town in Connecticut, Paul Loverde is a man who loves to be around people a lot. On one Saturday morning a month, he says an early Mass at a parish, and then leads people to saying the rosary in front of an abortion clinic. He is not a man given to much fanfare, and is sometimes spotted in Catholic bookstores by himself, in his clerical suit, with only the silver chain of his pectoral cross to distinguish him.
I've seen people confront him in public, at most inopportune moments, about matters of controversy. (A funeral luncheon? What were you thinking???
) And he's been known to get some very nasty letters.
But me? Hey, Mon Signeur
, if you're reading this, I know a nice little Italian restaurant out in Oakton. Whaddaya say I take you out there sometime? I know the waiter personally. We'll get a nice table, order the special of the house, split a bottle of cianti, and talk like men.
Since neither of us plays golf (and I never learned to play bacci), it seems like the next best thing. You know where to find me.