Words that inspire hate, violence 

Perhaps the one thing we can all agree upon is that there’s no shortage of idiots afoot today. Whether Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative or apolitical, contemplating the landscape surely reveals those idiots everywhere. While we certainly would not agree upon whom to place in the idiot class, we can at least agree they are “out there.”

Evidently somewhat fewer of us would agree that the toxic notion that any good can come of murdering large numbers of randomly chosen strangers is surely a major evil afflicting us all. I would hope we could agree that intercepting those who disagree on that point before they act on it would be a great idea as well as a worthy task for the authorities.

A wiser man than I once noted that no cause is so holy it fails to attract its share of nut jobs. I would add “and idiots.” I would also hope that most of us would agree that surely the lout who threw that kid to the ground, fracturing his skull and causing a concussion in Montana recently for the crime of refusing to take his cap off for “The Star-Spangled Banner” falls into the twin categories of nut and idiot. While the kid perhaps deserved “correction,” a fractured skull and concussion are surely excessive and quite unwarranted in the face of his infraction and age.

It is worth noting that afterward the nut/idiot justified his use of excessive force on a child by saying that he thought his act would be all right because our president had called for such acts in response to disrespecting the flag/anthem/etc. And herein lies the point of my letter.

I’ve noted letters back and forth blaming and excusing from blame our president. What I’ve not noticed is the call for leaders to be careful with their language because the idiots and nut jobs among us are easily stirred to action we all regret later.

The Montana assailant, the El Paso Walmart shooter and other idiots and nuts surely prove that words matter, and that not being the one who pulls the trigger does not exonerate a leader from blame when their words have inspired mayhem.

I hold no hope the current occupant of the White House will pay attention to little old me. But I would urge his supporters and those who do have his ear to impress upon him that there will be consequences to what he says, and that history, as well as the Creator, will judge him for his words as well as for his deeds. That judgement will be harsh if his words continue to inspire nuts and idiots to hatred and violence.



Why not one solution?

I submitted a letter to The News & Advance, my hometown newspaper, in response to the article published by the paper in April of this year titled “The Vatican wouldn’t defrock — a former altar boy share’s his story.” In my letter, I provided some additional steps that I felt the bishop of the Diocese of Richmond could take in response to sexual abuse inflicted by members of the clergy on minors. My hope was that the bishop, working in conjunction with the Catholic leadership in Rome, would focus on the needs of the victims and to provide reparations.

I have since become aware that archbishop of Philadelphia has announced the formation of the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program and the Church has provided $19 million in funding. The goal is use these funds to provide financial reparations to the victims of sexual abuse that occurred within the archdiocese. “Victims” eligible to participate includes those that have previously reported abuse as minors and who have yet to settle with the Archdiocese. In addition, “victims” who have not yet filed but are willing to formally register their complaints so an appropriate investigation may take place are also eligible to participate.

I applaud the action taken in Philadelphia and hope that this program will be applied throughout the Catholic Church in the United States. Given that Catholics make up about 40 percent of the population within the boundaries of the archdiocese, it is not surprising that Philadelphia was chosen to be the first to institute this program.

It is important to note, however, that the archdiocese of Philadelphia, with its membership of 1.5 million parishoners, makes up only a small fraction of all the Catholics in the U.S. I urge Catholic leadership in Rome and across the U.S. to expand the program being piloted in Philadelphia so all victims are treated in an equitable fashion.

Unfortunately to date the record appears to show that it is much too easy for the Catholic leadership in Rome to turn a blind eye toward the smaller flocks, like here in Virginia. Their lack of action can only be seen as a signal that they they intend to continue to sit on their hands and hope the public outcry goes silent.



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