Monday, September 24, 2007

McHenry's conservative roots exposed

placidandpat.jpgCrossposted at Scru Hoo and BlogActive.

Ever wonder where all these repressed Republican sex offenders learn how to be so repressed and offensive? Well, I'm starting to get the impression that their training comes from the finest conservative institutions of higher learning.

Recently someone emailed me about predatory gays at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia. When I posted it, I started hearing all about Patrick McHenry's alma mater, Belmont Abbey College.

Check this out:

While Congressman Pat McHenry was a student there, in the late 1990s, Belmont Abbey College officials knowingly hired as head of its theology department an accused sex offender who had been relieved of his Massachusetts responsibilities. When confronted by the press they lied about it. The truth came out in depositions by Boston's then-Cardinal Bernard Law that officials at Belmont Abbey had been informed that Geroge P. Berthold was dismissed due to such accusations. But the Abbey officials lied about this until the truth came out.

And Creative Loafing Charlotte uncovered this juicy tidbit: between 1995 and 2003, the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte paid $500,000 to local victims of sexual abuse.

So, let's recap: Paying people off, not reporting the abusers, hiring abusers from elsewhere, then lying about knowingly hiring abusers. That's the atmosphere at Pat McHenry's college, from which he was graduated not all that long ago. Gee, do you think he learned more than just history at that Benedictine Abbey in Mt. Holly, North Carolina?

Supporting material:

From Creative Loafing Charlotte:
Since 1995, the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has paid nearly a half-million dollars to local victims of alleged sexual abuse. The carefully worded disclosure was buried in its 2001-2002 annual report at the end of a description of its policy on protecting young people from sexual abuse.By our deadline on Monday, diocese spokesperson Kevin Murray was still trying to determine how many victims had received the money and the date of the alleged incidents for which they were paid. The report, which was issued in November, states that no payments were made during the last year on behalf of victims of clergy sexual misconduct with children.
Boston Globe:
The Archdiocese of Boston yesterday contradicted a statement by Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina that it was told nothing about allegations of inappropriate intimate contact against a Boston priest, the Rev. George P. Berthold, before the college hired him in 1997 to head its theology department.

Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that church officials in Boston had notified the college and the Diocese of Charlotte ''verbally and in writing'' that Berthold had been accused of inappropriate physical behavior with adult seminarians when he was dean of the undergraduate college at St. John's Seminary in 1995.
May 18, 2002 Boston Globe
The head of a Catholic college in North Carolina acknowledged yesterday that the Archdiocese of Boston did inform him of an allegation of inappropriate behavior against a priest seeking a teaching job at the school.

Abbot Placid Solari, of Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte, said yesterday that the Boston Archdiocese had told him that an "allegation of improper conduct" had been lodged against the Rev. George Berthold while he was a dean at St. John's Seminary in Boston.
School officials earlier this week said that the Boston Archdiocese told them nothing about the allegation before the college hired Berthold in 1997 to head its theology department.
Record of Berthold's placements.

Berthold abuse of boys at bishop accountability data base.
Last week, CL requested police report numbers, or other evidence documenting that the diocese had reported the alleged abuse referred to in the report to civil authorities. It was also unclear Monday whether the alleged abusers are still actively working or volunteering for the diocese.
Photo: Congressman Pat McHenry with Belmont Abbey College Chancellor Placid Solari.

6 comments:

Bill said...

Leslie,

Congratulations and profound thanks to you and Michael for publicizing a story about which I have had pieces of information, but for which I have been unable to get media attention for a decade now.

For a summary of what I have learned, through my own unfortunate experiences with this institution, see this letter I sent to Creative Loafing Charlotte:

http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A2557

Information about the links between ultra-right Catholic institutions and right-wing think tanks, big money, and highly placed politicos, is in a thread I started some months ago at National Catholic Reporter's website:

http://ncrcafe.org/node/944?page=1

For much more on the entire Belmont Abbey story, insofar as I have known about it, see the two discussion threads about Charlotte at the discussion board of the Survivors Network of Abuse by Priests (SNAP) at

http://p206.ezboard.com/bsnapsurvivorsnetwork

I am the person posting there as GodHears, though my identity was public knowledge as I posted, since I linked to other articles I had written in my own name while posting at SNAP.

There is a larger story to be told here, about how church-affiliated colleges, many of them in bedrock Republican states in the South, persistently violate the rights of openly gay employees, with full awareness of the fact that many of their employees are closeted and gay--and engaged in unsavory activities due to their being forced into the closet.

Many church-affiliated colleges even today have NO statements protecting the rights of gay employees, including the right to job security if one discloses one's sexual identity. It is still possible in too many church-affiliated institutions to be fired solely because one is gay, though trumped-up specious reasons other than sexual orientation are often given for the firing to prevent lawsuits.

Too many church-affiliated institutions have leaders pay lip service to respecting gay rights while violating the rights of gay employees. What educational leader today, after all, wants to be known as a bigot?

But many of these same lukewarm supporters of gay rights cave in immediately to pressure from their constituencies, boards, church leaders, and funders, if employees try to be open about their sexual orientation, and sacrifice gay employees to protect their own skins in conflict situations.

In church-affiliated colleges, people working for racial equity or women's rights are permitted to do so openly, to support such organizations openly. They are encouraged to do so.

But faculty and employees supporting gay rights are likely to be told that they are engaged in "activism" that violates the values of the institution.

Interestingly enough, a kind of karmic justice seems to kick in when such institutions lie and abuse in the name of Christian values, and their lies and abuse sometimes become public knowledge. I saw this happen in the case of Belmont Abbey, and am now watching a similar story play out with another church-affiliated university that recently fired several openly gay employees. When lies and abuse reach a critical mass in institutions, they tend to implode under the weight of their own rottenness.

What's ironic about the behavior of these institutions is that it so often belies their stated core values. Because my family contains generations of Methodist ministers, the United Methodist church is one I know fairly well, though of which I'm not a member.

That church has a covenant statement called the Social Principles, which forbids abuse of employees, and calls for gay rights to be protected. At the same time, the UMC says that any of its institutions "advocating" the practice of homosexuality will be deprived of funding.

In states that have right-to-work laws permitting church institutions to fire employees at will, it is easy for institutions that have wonderful values statements such as the UMC Social Principles to violate those principles by firing openly gay employees for practically any reason at all, no matter how bogus. It is easy for such institutions to get away with firing gay employees while giving those employees no right to respond to bogus evaluations or to lies circulated about them, which are then used to fire them.

This kind of behavior needs to stop. It is based on the assumption that we who who are gay are evil and deserve to be treated like dirt.

Thank you for helping us to uncover the real dirt, which is often right at the core of Christian institutions claiming to stand for human rights.

Bill said...

Looks like the link I sent to my Creative Loafing Charlotte letter somehow got truncated. I'll try posting it again:

http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A2557

And in case that's too long, here's the bit that follows charlotte.creativeloafing.com:

gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A2557

Drama Queen said...

hi Bill, Thanks for your comments. They are always insightful.

I'll use html code to make that link work:

Creative Loafing letter

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