The birth control bishops

February 28th, 2012

Rather than spend energy fighting contraception legislation, the Catholic Bishops should clean up their own backyard – Published on Al Jazeera, by Rose Aguilar, February 25, 2012. (with internal link for audio, 15.38 minutes).

San Francisco, CA – Forget child abuse. The Catholic Bishops would rather spend their time, money, and resources on birth control and women’s sex lives. The main debate over the past few weeks in the United States has been about birth control. And guess who’s dominating it? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the country’s official organisation of the Catholic hierarchy.  

The bishops are up in arms over the Obama administration’s rule that would have required health insurance plans, including Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities, to offer free contraception. Once the bishops took to the airwaves to criticise the decision, the administration modified its policy so that insurance companies, not Catholic hospitals or universities, pay for contraception. But that didn’t appease the bishops – or Republican extremists … //

… On February 21, SNAP held a protest in front of St Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio, to expose Father Robert Poandl for allegedly sexually abusing at least two boys nearly 30 years ago. In a separate incident, Ohio News Network reports that in 2010, Poandl was indicted in West Virginia after a 28-year-old man accused him of molestation. A judge threw out the case because the accuser failed to comply with a court order. Poandl was recently relieved of his duties in Savannah, Georgia, and was sent to Cincinnati.

“It is clear that he is a danger to kids,” said Judy Jones, associate director of SNAP, in an interview with CBS Atlanta 46. “He should not be put out there in these small parishes. We are urging anyone with knowledge or who has been harmed by Father Poandl to please contact police.”

It gets worse, and it’s not confined to the Catholic denomination. Darrell Gilyard, a Jacksonville, Florida, pastor who served three years in state prison after pleading guilty to molesting a teenage girl he was supposed to counsel and sending sexually explicit text messages to another, is once again preaching from the pulpit at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. The Florida Times-Union reports that in 2004, Gilyard, a registered sex offender who is reportedly on probation until December 2014, admitted to fathering the child of a woman who had accused him of raping her during a 2004 counselling session, according to court records.

And how are children being protected from Gilyard? They’re being sent to a separate building and service. Praise the Lord and welcome to Sunday mass. Now please send your child across the street because our preacher is a convicted paedophile. The New Black Panther Party is holding demonstrations outside of the church calling on Gilyard to step down.

So if convicted paedophiles are still preaching and cover-ups are still happening, how often are children being abused? When survivors are ready to seek help, they often turn to Barbara Dorris. I was shocked to learn that she receives eight to nine calls a day from adults who were abused as children.

“To this day, they think they’re the only one,” she says. “They ask: ‘What can I do? I’m terrified he’s still out there. What can we do to make sure nobody else gets hurt?’ That’s the most common question. That’s a huge fear for a survivor. They feel responsible and guilty. ‘If only I’d told sooner, nobody else would have gotten hurt.’”

No change: … //

… Focusing on the real issues:

The media have a responsibility to explore these issues. Stop giving the USCCB a wide open platform.

Why, in a country that prides itself on the separation of church and state, does the USCCB have so much influence in Washington DC, regardless of the party in power? According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the USCCB spent $26.6m on advocacy and “political activities” in 2009. Where does this tax-exempt group get their funding? Why are they given a pass on paedophilia?  Why did they redefine paedophilia?

Why are they so eager go after birth control when priests are still molesting children? I tried asking the USCCB this very question, but they didn’t respond to my interview requests. Why isn’t the hypocrisy being exposed? Raise these questions and demand answers. Do it for the survivors. (full text).

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