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Here’s yet another deeply disheartening case of law enforcement and Catholic Church authorities in cahoots to shield child-abusing priests from real-world accountability.

It might be more shocking if these kinds of reports weren’t so disturbingly commonplace these days, as they seep up into public consciousness from decades long lost and forgotten.

This latest news came in a May 19 article in The Buffalo (New York) News titled “Marching orders kept Buffalo cops from arresting child-molesting priests.”

A ‘conspiracy’

Calling it a “conspiracy” and urging New York Attorney General Letitia James to investigate and prosecute, a News editorial the following day — “Editorial: Police Aiding and Abetting Molestation by Priests”— stressed:

“As disturbing as it is to know that Buffalo police and the Catholic Church were engaged in a depraved and illegal policy to shield priests from criminal prosecution, it doesn’t really come as a surprise. That had been standard practice elsewhere in the country, with the church and law enforcement conniving to shield priests at the expense of the children they molested. All in the name of religion.”

If anyone doubts the wisdom of keeping church and state completely separate, this case—and countless others like it worldwide—should starkly disabuse them of such notions.

The “all in the name of religion” of which the News editorial speaks is the crux of the matter.

What “Religion” is fundamentally about, as I almost grow weary of repeating, is invented, not real, despite millennia of deep embedding in human cultures. Doctrines of religious faiths, like Christianity and Islam, are based on superstitious imaginings, not fact-based reality.

But with familiarity grows a sense of normalcy, of actuality, as Christianity has grown over centuries to be widely viewed in America. It is a faith whose beliefs not only seem as real to believers as Islamic terrorist’s suicide vests but also “sacred” and, thus, that they should be widely propagated and defended at all costs.

Nobody calls supernatural religion what it is: superstition.

Christianity’s special treatment

So religion, which is predominantly Christianity in America, has long gotten special treatment by those who enforce our laws. “The Church” for centuries has been protected as something far more valuable and sacrosanct than virtually anything, much less children.

In effect, the police in Buffalo, as in many cities in America and elsewhere, decided that the dominant local religion is, in fact, divine, and its sacred practitioners must be wholly protected from temporal law. Even if children are its victims.

This is why the church is now tottering on its deified foundations globally, as thousands upon thousands of cases of priestly pedophilia and other forms of child sex abuse in far-flung parishes have been pouring out in news media reveals like that of the Buffalo News. The newspaper’s story began:

“Hardly any of the more than 100 Buffalo area priests implicated as child molesters spent so much as one day in jail.

“For years, most of their victims were too scared or embarrassed to make complaints.

“But Buffalo Police had marching orders not to arrest Catholic priests, according to former vice squad Detective Martin Harrington and other retired officers. Instead they alerted the bishop’s office to any illegal activities. … The policy ‘only extended to Catholic priests,'” Harrington recalled. “If we caught clergy from other religions, we arrested them.”

Echoing Harrington’s recollection, according to the News article was former vice squad Lt. Martin Jurewicz (he retired in 2002), who told the newspaper:

“When I joined the vice squad in 1968, the department had just changed its policy on priests. You used to just let them go. Starting around 1968, when you picked up a priest, you had to call the bishop’s office. The bishop’s office would send someone to pick up the priest. No arrest was made. The diocese handled these problems.”

The Pennsylvania case

Similarly appalling details were publicized last year by the Pennsylvania attorney general in a case involving hundreds of accused priests over many years. After investigating six of the state’s dioceses, the report concluded that “the church persuaded families not to report sexual abuses and police not to investigate them,” according to the News editorial.

“It’s one thing to pressure a family not to report a hideous crime – as revolting as that is – but another entirely to collude with police to turn a blind eye to the law at precisely the moment that its enforcement is needed the most,” the editorial emphasized. “‘Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all,’ according to the report of the Pennsylvania grand jury. And police went along.”

The News editorial insisted that the New York AG investigation “needs to be so deep, so thorough and so consequential that no organization— church, police or other — will ever again dare again to be so depraved as to sacrifice children to the appetites of adults.”

If you forget everything else about this sordid news, remember this: governmental acceptance of divine superstitions led to the unconstitutional and dangerous co-mingling of church and state in Buffalo, which led to government ignoring priestly pedophilia, and which endorsed and perpetuated this depraved behavior in which church and state are equally complicit.

In the end innocent victims were, in effect, callously abandoned to suffer in silence.


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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...