Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Knights In Rusty Armor: K of C Hit With Sex Abuse Scandal

“The supreme purpose of the Columbian Squires is character building.”

Holy hypocrisy! One of the most powerful lay organizations in the world has finally succumbed to a sex-abuse scandal: The Roman Catholic Church's own Knights of Columbus. Yes, that's right, the KofC, that bastion of money, male bonding and morals has gotten slapped with not one but two sexual abuse lawsuits. And due to the size of the organization, it's likely that more will follow.
NEW HAVEN, CT, December 14, 2010 — The Miami law firm of Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz announces the filing of two new child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Knights of Columbus, one of the world’s largest organizations for Catholic men... The suits allege that the two boys were sexually abused on multiple occasions by Julian Rivera, the leader of the Columbian Squires [youth group] in Brownsville, Texas. One victim claims that Rivera sexually abused him at gunpoint, and also threatened to kill his family if he did not comply with Rivera’s demands.
In addition, one of the victims said he was "shared" by another Columbian Squires leader. This last exposes a whole new aspect to the situation: these are not isolated incidents. These suits go beyond the sexual abuse seemingly endemic in the Catholic Church's preisthood. And like the Vatican, the K of C has covered up the abuse:
According to the Complaints, Rivera was a leader in the Columbian Squires youth program until very recently, despite a 1986 report to two different Knights of Columbus officials that Rivera sexually abused a member of his Squires group.
A Matter of Size

Considering the span of years that the Church has had to account for sexual abuse, it is surprising that the Knights of Columbus has not been indicted earlier. Then again, considering its size and influence, it becomes clear that the organization's cover-ups must have been well orchestrated: there are over 5000 Columbian Squire Circles [chapters] throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Philippines and even Cuba.

And the membership of the Knights of Columbus is matched by the size of its fund-raising pocketbook: while giving over $1.37 billion over the last 10 years, it also has assets of over $14 billion and $70 billion in life insurance policies. No wonder it could afford to spend $1.4 million on Prop 8. 

Its innate homophobia is a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, the K of C has flaunted its homophobia by spending more money to fight same-sex marriage than on its usual charitable donations, including donations to food drives. In other words, "The poor we will always have," but the chance to fight equal rights for gays, well, we may not always have.

Given the amount of money and assets involved, it will be interesting to see how Pope Benedict reacts to this latest scandal ...and if he had any knowledge of cover-ups. His defence of the Knights of Columbus will be convoluted at best: will he try to save this piggy bank from being shattered by public opinion? And if he defends it too much, will he add to the rancor towards the Vatican concerning its history of cover-ups?

Another portal to hypocrisy has been discovered while another bastion of rectitude has fallen.