Bishop Jenky and the Looters

bishop-jenky

I like the Bishop of Peoria, my Bishop, Daniel R. Jenky.  He is a bluff good humored bear of a man, orthodox to his core, outspokenly pro-life and a good all-around shepherd of the diocese.  I like him even more after he wrote this letter.

Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Peoria,

My greatest responsibility as your bishop is to preach the Gospel, celebrate the Sacraments, and to try my best to be a good shepherd for this local church. The saddest part of my ministry has been to deal with our part of the immense societal issue of sexual misconduct with minors. Where there have been credible accusations made against individuals and with the advice of my Review Commission, I have not hesitated to remove them from all active ministry. I have also tried to attentively follow the charter adopted by the American bishops that deals in a comprehensive manner with this painful subject. I have not discovered any evidence in this Diocese that priests guilty of misconduct were ever moved from assignment to assignment. Our Diocese normally offers counseling to victims rather than paying out large cash settlements. Not every allegation has been found to be credible by our Review Commission, and so our Diocese resists supporting those claims that simply cannot be sustained by the facts. I take very seriously my responsibility to protect all the children entrusted to our care, and I am absolutely convinced that today the programs of our Church now provide the safest possible environment in America for your children.

In these perilous economic times, I will work to be a prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ. Attorneys representing some claimants and some “victims groups” obviously have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies. Recent decisions in the Illinois courts may make our legal situation even more difficult in the future. It should be noted that the sexual abuse of minors cuts across all socio-economic lines, ethnicities, ministries, and religions. It is important to remember that the State basically exempts its own institutions from civil litigation. Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic Faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law. I will not be intimidated by choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me. I remain immensely proud of the zealous and holy priesthood of our Diocese. May God guide and protect his Holy Church and bless us all in his service. Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. BISHOP OF PEORIA

I was going to engage in extensive commentary now, but I really see no point.  I agree with the Bishop’s stance and wish more bishops had his spine.  The predator priests and the bishops who protected them deserve the harshest of criminal penalties, and, where there is hard evidence that a bishop shielded a predator priest, compensation by the responsible diocese should be paid.  However, what is going on now often resembles more an attempted wholesale looting of the Church than  legal proceedings, frequently in fairly dubious cases, and frequently by attorneys who either care far more about dollars than they do about justice, or who have an obvious hatred of the Church.  Here is an article regarding the court ruling  that the bishop refers to.  Allowing decades old cases to proceed to trial based on rot like repressed memory is the height of folly and is only tolerated because the Catholic Church is the target. 

Update:  I see that Father Z had a great post on this letter of the Bishop on February 9.

7 Responses to Bishop Jenky and the Looters

  • Richard Schwab says:

    I also agree with the Bishop. I moved from Peoria 11 years ago and have always appreciated the Bishops of Peoria. I now live in Greenbay WI and I hope and pray that our Bishop has the spine and strength to stand up like this great Bishop.

  • Ryan Harkins says:

    Greenbay, huh? That would Bishop David Ricken, correct? He was the Bishop of The Diocese of Wyoming until being reassigned to Wisconsin, and he did an amazing job with our state. He started the Wyoming Catholic College, cleaned up a lot of parishes, implement a slew of useful programs. He’s a great man. I think he has the spine and the strength.

  • Gerard E. says:

    Bravo to Don’s shepherd. Hit all the right notes. Won’t be rattled by the equivalent of Race Hustlers who want a few more bucks out of diocesan coffers- like lawyers, right Don hint hint? Going thru a trauma as this in our own parish. Assistant Pastor suspended because of accusation of abuse going back to mid 90s. When he passed police background check with flying colors. Will only watch and wait for events to proceed and not pass judgment. But seems like our Melchizadeks should exchange Roman collars for bullseyes in standard clothing. Oh Don don’t get too comfortable about your fine bishop. Might be musical chairs underway with selection of Archbishop Dolan of Milwaukee to preside over the see of New York. Maybe your guy as replacement in Brew Town? Hmm.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Don, my knowledge of New Zealand geography would not stand up to much close inspection. Peoria is about 131 miles southwest of Chicago. Here is a link to a map.

    http://www.mapcrow.info/Distance_between_Peoria_US_and_Chicago_US.html

    A familiar expression in this country is “Will it play in Peoria?” In vaudeville days entertainers would often try out acts in small locales like Peoria before moving on to the big cities. Now the expression means: will something that is popular in urban centers be accepted in the rest of the country.

  • matt says:

    Wow. He really said it all there without being one-sided. He admitted the Church has had a problem but really nailed it when he said the scandal was being abused by those who seek to hurt the Church. Thanks.

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