Are demotions appropriate punishment for priests?
So, what about Monsignors Frederick Annie, Anthony Cincinnati and Kevin Quirk? Are demotions enough punishment?
The three were, for years, vicars in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, under former bishop Michael Bransfield. They enabled some of his misbehavior, according to a report submitted to the Vatican.
And Bransfield misbehaved badly, according to the report. It states he sexually harassed some adults and spent millions of dollars in church money for his own benefit. He retired last year.
Those asking how he got away with it for many years get a partial answer in the church investigators’ report: “Despite witnessing multiple instances of harassing and abusive behavior over several years, none of the Vicars took action to address Bishop Bransfield’s behavior.”
Archbishop William Lori, of Baltimore, was placed in charge of the diocese after Bransfield left. Earlier this month, he revealed Annie, Cincinnati and Quirk have been reassigned — all as parish priests. That’s quite a demotion.
Annie will serve as a priest in Star City, adjacent to Morgantown. Cincinnati goes to a Morgantown parish. Quirk will serve parishes in New Martinsville and Paden City.
Should they have been booted out entirely? I have heard their cases compared to those of predator priests who abused children and, instead of being punished severely — and reported to police — were transferred to other parishes.
That comparison is a bit harsh. To my knowledge, none of the three has been accused of engaging in sexual harassment or abuse — only of enabling Bransfield.
That’s bad enough, of course, but it is a much less serious offense.
Christians believe in repentence and forgiveness. It’s up to the Catholics being served directly by the three priests to judge whether they are sincerely repentant and worthy of second chances.
New York state legislators have enacted a bill that bans surgery to declaw cats, except in cases of medical necessity.
Some people have pet cats declawed to protect the furniture and draperies. Others do it to ensure small children are not scratched.
New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (of Manhattan — but you guessed that) championed the bill. Declawing cats is “painful and it causes the cat problems,” she said. “It’s just brutal.”
Apparently, aborting a baby is not brutal, in the judgment of Rosenthal and most of her fellow lawmakers. Earlier this year, they approved a bill greatly liberalizing abortion law in New York.
Now, women in the Empire State can get abortions on demand at up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After that, they still can have their babies terminated if “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age” are relevant to a patient’s wellbeing. In other words, a woman seeking a post-24-week abortion may be able to make a case that, well, her emotions just can’t handle having a baby.
If she gets a sympathetic doctor, the baby dies.
Apparently Rosenthal and like-minded lawmakers do not consider that brutal.
Mike Myer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.