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Friday, June 8, 2007

Friar Warren's "allergies"

Wednesday's late-night post about the sordid Catholic priest child sex abuse scandals here in Portland -- and the continuing shame the archdiocese is bringing upon itself as it jerks victims and parishioners around with its secret documents -- struck a chord with a couple of readers. Both of them were young men in the pews in the 1950s and 1960s.

One wrote:

I was growing up Irish Catholic in the Bronx about 10 years before you were growing up Polish Catholic in Newark, and I think we shared similar experiences with, and perspectives on, the RC Church.

This morning I followed the link in your blog to the pdf document collection and picked one at random to read. I think it ended in a number 29. [The document is no. PD 0229, here. --JB]

It was a letter from the former [Portland] Archbishop Power to his counterpart in the Baker Diocese about needing to seek a temporary "trade" or transfer of someone from, I think, Cottage Grove, or some similar place in the south of the Willamette Valley [Junction City], to someplace in the Baker Diocese on the east side, because the guy had bad allergies. In the letter Power tells his counterpart that the miscreant "had no problems with his priesthood."

This fool of an archbishop [apparently] covered up and lied to parents, parishioners, civil authorities, and even his fellow bishops. What an immoral monster.

Where you and I grew up, for us laity, telling that kind of lie was a mortal sin. Different rules, I guess, for the guys with the purple stripes.

If I still believed in any of the cr*p, I would devoutly wish that Power be consigned to the deepest parts of hell.

The priest with the "allergies" whom the bishop was "trading" to Baker was apparently Father Ronald James Anthony Warren. According to this site, he was accused of misconduct by three people in the Portland diocese, and "forced to retire when allegations surfaced." The site also reports that the Portland "Archdiocese's bankruptcy froze a $350,000 settlement check to one of the claimants." Warren is reportedly still alive and living in the Portland area -- no doubt taking Claritin.

But perhaps the bishop in Baker wasn't as dumb as the letters from Portland make him out to look. He certainly wasn't innocent. The other priest involved in the "swap" that materialized was Father David Hazen, who himself had been a major abuser while he was over in Baker. There were also some accusations against him on the Portland side, but he died in 1983, five years after he moved over here.

Another reader wrote of a different pervert in a Roman collar:

I attended Central Catholic High School back when Tom Laughlin taught there. For all his intelligence and questionable good points, he was a p***k. Later, [when I was] fresh out of college and employed in a good job in NYC, he came to town. I took him to dinner one nite to whatever the fine restaurant was at Black Rock (the CBS Building). More than a few drinks and dinner later, I offered that it was time for me to head for home, as Monday was a work day for me. He pleaded to continue.... after dinner, drinks, etc., but I stuck to my guns and departed. Not sayin' what might have followed, but knowing now what I didn't know then, it would not have surprised me if he would have put on some moves.

Later, in 1970, my then new wife and I moved back to Portland. We had been married in a Protestant ceremony -- I Catholic, she not. We were guests at a wedding. TBL was there, met my then wife, and out of hand, offered he would be "happy to help us fix our marriage." Intro over, she turns to me and wonders, "Who in the f*ck does he think he is? Arrogant b****rd!"

Years pass.... I'm in Silicon Valley and come up for a CCHS 25 year reunion in 1983. My buddies and I are drinking coffee over the Saturday paper, and we come across the first published account of his despicable activities. The floodgates are now open, and the saga rolled out over the years. His Portland supporters and worshippers were embarrassed. Most of us agreed that the p***k finally got his due.

I guess what lingers and galls me more is the long and enduring quiet and righteous complicity of the Portland Church hierarchy -- still somewhat prevalent even as they publish "some" of the historical documents.

While I quietly still adhere to my Catholic beliefs, but do not practice, it is an unfortunately shameful history of the Catholic Church in Portland, going way back to the '50s and continuing today.

I could go on with myriad anecdotes as to which of Portland's "better" families took TBL in, and were "taken in" by his personality and guile. Here we are, some 50 years later, and his nightmarish evildoings still make print. And he's only one case... out of many, many more.

Laughlin reportedly is still alive and living in Nebraska.

The present archbishop, John Vlazny, let his high-priced lawyers convince him that bankruptcy was going to save the church a bunch of money and keep the most painful parts of the truth under wraps. I believe he achieved none of the above, and things could get worse if and when more of his dirty secret documents see daylight.

The "swap" of the two abusers on account of "allergies" is a classic story that explains just about the whole thing. I haven't been to church in a few weeks. God forgive me, but tonight I'm not sure I'm ever going back.

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