Thursday, March 21, 2002

Golden rule


If only all clergy followed it

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        Certain men of the cloth have me confused.

        I always thought they were supposed to be men of their word, to say nothing of the word of God.

        This assumption was based on the high standing clergymen have in the community, the high standards to which they are held and the high level of trust they need to practice their calling.

        Now, I'm not so sure.

        Doubts have been raised by recent events:

        Catholic priests abused their vows, as well as the trust and the bodies of children. Yet they remain employed by the church.

        Leaders of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have created appearances that they have not been completely forthcoming in reporting these illegal abuses to the proper legal authorities.

        Baptist ministers say they are going to help Cincinnati. Then they turn around and hurt it.

        The Rev. Billy Graham, the evangelist known as “the Nation's Pastor,” is heard making anti-Semitic remarks on a tape recorded at the Nixon White House.

        None of this makes sense.

        These men know better.

        But their words say otherwise.

Contradictions abound

        Priests take a vow of celibacy when they are ordained. When they violate that vow — moreover, when they molest children — they are not men of their word. They are pedophiles — criminals with tragically high rates of recidivism.

        Yet, last week, Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk disclosed that church officials had “substantiated” allegations of sexual misconduct involving priests and teen-agers. These cases occurred over the past 15 years.

        The archbishop apologized to the victims. He reportedly added: “We want to make sure the perpetrator never does this again.”

        He went on to note that fewer than five of the accused priests remain with the archdiocese.

        He did not give out their names or describe their duties or positions in the church.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen wants those details and more by the end of the week. So far, the church has not honored his requests.

        On Feb. 7, the Rev. Dr. C. Mackey Daniels, a leader of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, said the group would hold its annual sessions in August in Cincinnati. Between 8,000 and 15,000 people would attend, pumping as much as $18 million into the ailing local economy.

        Standing on the steps of City Hall, the reverend said: “We see this as an opportunity to minister to a sick city that needs healing.”

        On Saturday, the Progressive National Baptist Convention got in line with a boycott of Cincinnati, cited the city's “hostile racial climate” and canceled its convention. So much for ministering to a sick city in need of healing.

        On Feb. 1, 1972, after a White House prayer breakfast, the Rev. Graham was recorded saying: The Jewish “stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain.”

        On Saturday, the Rev. Graham apologized for his 30-year-old remarks.

        On Tuesday, he announced he was bringing his evangelical mission to Cincinnati in June, defying the boycott, and declaring: “Racism is a sin.”

Do unto others

        To resolve these contradictions, I turned to the Bible.

        While trying to make sense of these words, I came across a verse in Matthew from Christ's Sermon on the Mount. It contains 18 words.

        “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

        That's the golden rule. In one form or another, its message is endorsed by most religions.

        The world would have less confusion — and fewer problems — if certain men of the cloth would practice what their faiths preach.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; e-mail cradel@enquirer.com.

       



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