Monday, December 19, 2011

The Bishop’s Man – by author Linden MacIntyre

Excerpt from above: 
MacIntryre, who stopped in at the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library Friday to read from his book, The Bishop's Man, said he decided not to draw attention to lurid acts committed against children, but instead focused on the betrayal of trust and institution's response, or lack of it, when such abuse occurred. 
"The greater crime is an institutional crime," he said. "It's not what an individual does to another person, it is how society or an institution reacts to it. Then I began to look at the book in a totally different way. This is a book about the Bishop's man. It's about somebody." 
MacIntyre, who is a Giller Prize winner and famed CBC journalist for the Fifth Estate, admits he is unsure if the bishop has a "man" that goes into a community and cleans up a situation such as this, but he is confident the dioceses has someone similar in place. He said the bishop's man could be its lawyers, a parish counsel or a priest. 
"Nine times out of ten the Bishop's man came back and said, 'I think he has  a drinking problem. All we got to do is fix the drinking problem and all the other stuff will go way'. So suddenly, buddy is on a plane for Ontario for 40 days of self-examination and than he is brought back good as new and he is in a parish again." 
The institution couldn't face the possibility of a scandal based on the behavior of one priest, he said,  so it had to pretend that there is nothing really wrong with the priest. 
"It's nothing a little rehab won't fix, and at all costs the institution has to be protected. We can't have protestants and Jews, enemies of the church, going around talking about this because they will use it against us and undermining the faith of our own people," he said. 
MacIntyre said this just created a bigger problem because now the person who has been victimized is left feeling like they are worthless. 
"Suddenly everything is rationalized and suddenly little Johnny, who was molested is sitting there wondering where did Father go? He figures out father is down the road and little Johnny figures there must be something wrong with him because Father never got punished. Little Johnny grows up like that and shoots himself or drinks himself half to death and becomes dysfunctional one way or another." 
When the discussion shifted to current events surrounding the recent conviction of Bishop Raymond Lahey on child porn charges, MacIntrye couldn't help, but speculate that the "institution" had a role in transferring him to a new area where his "weaknesses" could be better disguised. 
"My sister is from Newfoundland and she knew Bishop Lahey and she described him as the kind of church leader there should be more of, but he had a demon and the awful thing is he knew about it and other people knew about it for a long time," he said. " I don't know why he came to Nova Scotia, but I can't help but think that it was part of the same pattern. 
He came here because no one knew him. Bishop Lahey had weaknesses and he's facing punishment. It's not going to be very severe, but the end of his life is going to miserable. But what about the people who covered up for him over the years?"