Special Report

Hit and Run Liberals

A carpenter is left to bleed to death while the bishop who hit him speeds away in a luxury car.

By 6.18.03

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Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien's hit-and-run incident is a metaphor for the America Catholic Church under limousine liberals. It speaks of "social justice," then leaves a trail of victims in its wake. It calls for "responsibility," then shirks it with surreal cravenness.

A carpenter is left to bleed to death while the bishop who hit him speeds away in a luxury car. This is an apt image for a liberal club that preaches a Christianity indifferent to Christ the carpenter -- a Christianity so flabby, secularized and morally empty that it barely aspires to the philosophy and holiness of Chappaquiddick Ted Kennedy.

Let us make the obvious point: O'Brien did starkly what the Mahonys of the American church do subtly. They, too, create the most hapless of victims, then sprint for the high grass. They witness life-altering accidents but don't bother to call the cops.

Take, as just one example, the case of Michael Baker, a molesting ex-priest in Los Angeles. He told the Los Angeles Times that in 1986 he admitted his abuse to Cardinal Roger Mahony. According to Baker's own account, an archdiocesan lawyer at that meeting asked Cardinal Mahony, "Should we call the police now?" "No, no, no," responded Mahony. (The Los Angeles archdiocese denies Baker's story.) For the next 14 years -- repeat 14 years -- Mahony assigned Baker to multiple parishes with proximity to children.

Now is this all that different from not calling the cops after a car accident? If priests and bishops can run from molested children -- if they can leave them suffering in silence at the scene of the crime -- why not maimed pedestrians too?

Truth be told, the American church under the Mahonys and O'Briens has been a hit-and-run operation for decades, damaging bodies and souls with false teaching and scandal then denying the damage. It has been notoriously soft on crime. It has hidden criminals in its own ranks, and even asked for the pardon of criminals outside of them, as in the case of pardoned drug trafficker Carlos Vignali, whose release from Bill Clinton followed a plea by Mahony. (Political strategist James Carville used Mahony's letter to defend the propriety of Clinton's corrupt pardon.)

People express shock at O'Brien. Why? Didn't we already know he was a felon? Last week Arizona state prosecutors told us that he was one. They described his de facto felonies in obstructing molestation cases. O'Brien even admitted his obstruction of justice in a statement, then ran from his concession before the ink had dried. His conduct is nothing if not consistent.

Nor is it surprising that in this hit-and-run ecclesiastical culture Frank Keating is intolerable. Didn't he know Cardinal Mahony wanted a lapdog not a watchdog? Didn't he know that the bishops set up the sex abuse review panel to save their own skin? Keating was altogether the wrong man for the job. He told the truth, and that's too "off the wall" for the Mahonys of the church to handle. The men who have shredded the credibility of the church decided he lacked the requisite credibility for the job. They stay, he goes.

While they puffed and pouted about Keating's comparison of their conduct to "La Cosa Nostra" -- and angled against him because he had violated their unspoken wishes, thereby confirming his comments -- a protected member of their club plowed down a pedestrian and kept driving. Only to wonder later, with a casualness that would make a mafioso proud, if he had struck a "dog" or "cat."

"As I have recently said, and have repeated on several occasions, our church is a Faith institution. A home to Christ's people. It is not a criminal enterprise. It does not condone and cover up criminal activity. It does not follow a code of silence. My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology," Keating wrote in a parting letter.

He needn't apologize. As the carriage carrying corrupt clerics tramples on peasants, the "deadly accuracy" of his criticism is obvious to all.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.