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Equal pay and sexual abuse

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Dear Friends,

Good morning. In a moment, I’ll share what some of my sources opine about the status of the Catholic Church as it tries to reduce the damage caused by sex abuse in the clergy. But first, I have a correction and an apology.

Several weeks ago, I referred to our friends Alex Cangialosi and his wife Susanna Randazzo as the Randazzos. I was only half right. I should have called them the Cangialosi-Randazzo couple. Mea Culpa. Mighty Betsy and I look forward to listening to Andrea Bocelli sing over a glass of vino or two with them.

And now to business: Did you watch the U.S. women’s soccer team win its fourth World Cup? Did you see the triumphant parade in New York City? Mighty Betsy and our daughters certainly did. I still can’t get over the disparity about compensation female and male players receive.

It’s embarrassing. The women are far better than the men but they receive only a fraction of what the men receive.

According to the NewYork Times July 9, “In recent years, that fight for pay equality has been the women’s soccer team’s calling card. The players contend they are paid less by the United States Soccer Federation than the men … sometimes tens of thousands of dollars or more for top players in a given year … and that the situation has persisted for years as the women’s team has collected more trophies and begun to produce more revenue than the men.”

What will change this inequity are the sponsors … those advertisers and the TV networks that supply the money. For example, when Nike patrons demand that Nike compensate women and men equally, we’ll see fairness but not before. Will it happen soon? I predict that It will happen sooner than later.

Now, moving on to another subject, I don’t think that I’d last long as a Catholic priest. Don’t get me wrong. I applaud the relationships that a priest builds with his parishioners. Those relationships are wonderful. But the church is a top down institution. So it’s probably not a good idea to disagree with the nearby bishop or the Pope … even if they have it wrong.

Father Fred Riegler, the recently retired priest at St. Isidore’s Quakertown, could not have been popular with Charles Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia, or the Vatican for that matter. Father Fred often criticized the Church’s reluctance to expel pedophile priests promptly. And he’s not the only local priest to do so.

Chaput, has often been tagged as a “cultural warrior,” that is one who frequently comments on the present scene, especially as it affects the Catholic Church. At times he is rather blunt and outspoken. If we were to place him on the spectrum of Catholic opinion, he’s very conservative.

I have met several priests over the years who expressed frustration with bishops whose solution is more of a reflection of their own biases than what is happening in the local parishes. For example, the present archbishop of Philadelphia makes no apology for his position that the real cause of this scandal are gays or, as he often refers to them, homosexuals. The archbishop is a self-proclaimed cultural warrior who is not shy in taking on those who disagree with him. These, by the way, include other bishops.

There is a difference between homosexuality and pedophilia.

One person, from another diocese in Pennsylvania, thought she would engage Chaput in an academic style debate where there is considerable give and take. When she strongly disagreed with Chaput’s position and pointed out nconsistencies, his response in a nutshell was that he alone would decide which arguments would prevail.

This is why the Catholic Church still struggles with a crisis that threatens to undermine whatever good it may do and whatever constructive response it may offer.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith


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