What the hell is wrong with the Catholic church?

You would think that by now people would have got used to the extent to which the Catholic church went to shield pedophile priests. But then comes along a story like this about a bombshell secret deposition that reveals the callous disregard the church had towards the victims of a priest while covering up his abuses, and even promoting him and allowing him to retire with full benefits.

Longtime New Orleans Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker received a special honor from the Vatican nearly 25 years ago despite having confessed to molesting children. Then, for another two decades, church leaders in the city strategically shielded him from law enforcement and media exposure – while also providing him with financial support ranging from paid limousine rides and therapeutic massages to full retirement benefits, according to his own, previously unreported testimony.

A sworn deposition Hecker gave in private in 2020 shows exactly how high-placed Catholic church officials in New Orleans let him keep his elevated position for years, even after they had been advised to oust him from the clergy and – much later – publicly acknowledged that he was a child predator.

“It wasn’t a big deal in those days,” Hecker said at the deposition about how his archdiocese coddled him despite his acknowledged abuse of children.

The scale of the cover-up shocks the conscience. As Hecker walked into New Orleans’ historic St Louis Cathedral in early January 2000 to receive the honorary, Vatican-bestowed title of monsignor, he had already confessed to molesting children he met through his ministry.

According to a bombshell search warrant Louisiana state police troopers served on the church in late April, the investigation which produced those charges has evolved into an inquiry over whether members of the archdiocese – in Hecker’s case and others – operated as a child sex-trafficking ring responsible for “widespread sexual abuse of minors dating back decades” that was “covered up and not reported to law enforcement”.

Hecker retired with full benefits – providing him everything from housing and insurance to retirement income – in 2002, just when a clerical abuse and cover-up scandal in Boston hit fever pitch.

Read the full story. It is utterly sickening. The telling phrase is when Hecker says “It wasn’t a big deal in those days.” Not for him or the church apparently, but thy conveniently ignore the victims.

Any non-religious organization with a history like the Catholic church would have been shut down by the authorities as a criminal enterprise and a danger to society and its leaders thrown into prison.


  1. Deepak Shetty says

    What the hell is wrong with the Catholic church?
    I think you will run out of petabytes on your hosting provider before you could complete the answer to this question

  2. mordred says

    The clergy and their defenders always claim the abuse scandal is all in the past now, since the whole mess got public they cleaned up their house…

    They just don’t stop lying.

  3. says

    Any non-religious organization with a history like the Catholic church would have been shut down by the authorities as a criminal enterprise and a danger to society and its leaders thrown into prison.

    So, President James Earl Carter walked away from the Southern Baptist church he grew up in and supported for many years over ethical differences regarding the role and treatment of women. President Joseph Robinette Biden continues to attend Catholic mass and take communion.
    That’s just one of the several reasons I didn’t vote for Biden in 2020 (I voted 3rd party) and most likely won’t vote for him in the fall unless Ohio is seriously in play.

  4. Dunc says

    Well, where do you want to start?

    The thing is, you’ve got to understand “confession”. Confession wipes your sin away. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dunc @4: I’m no expert on Catholicism (we’ll wait for John M to chime in), but I don’t think you understand their concept of confession. My impression is that it’s not enough to just tell a priest what you did. You have to feel genuine contrition. Pretending might fool a priest, but not the imaginary Bloke who’s actually judging you.

    The way you present it, it’s as though you can do whatever you want, then just confess. Rinse and repeat.

    There’s a lot to criticize about pretty much any organized religion. Making up stuff isn’t necessary.

  6. Deepak Shetty says

    @dunc @4

    Confession wipes your sin away.

    Well there is the “unforgivable” sin. I would think that one would be does not donate to the Catholic church , but surprisingly thats not the one.

  7. jenorafeuer says

    Jimmy Carter is a fun spanner in the works of some of the older right-wing talking points. If anybody complains that they’ve never had an ‘evangelical’ president, just point out that they did, and they absolutely hated him and actively sabotaged his career. (Granted, that’s not a complaint you hear much anymore thanks to Trump, even though Trump is far from evangelical.)

    Up in Canada we actually had a bit of the flip side of that. Prime Minister Paul Martin was fairly openly Catholic. He also, as one of his defining acts in office, arranged for and signed a federal law allowing for same-sex marriage. And by ‘arranged for’, that goes all the way to him making a written deal with one of the other parties promising to have the bill brought up for a vote in order to get their approval for the budget, and then running Parliament into overtime to pull it off. (He’d actually voted against a previous version of such a law before he became Prime Minister, but by this point he said he believed it was both a legal and human rights issue, and that his religious beliefs should not be allowed to interfere with his job of representing the country.)

    For doing that he actually got some of the more conservative Catholic priests in the country threatening to refuse him communion, though I’m not sure whether or not anybody ever actually tried to follow through on that threat.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    The systemic flaws in the Catholic Church go so deep that no single Pope or cardinal can repair it. The entire culture has to change but the system has too much inertia. It is a bit like Gorbachev and the Party.

  9. John Morales says

    [re #4,5]

    Contrition (personal), confession (to a priest), penance (by a priest), absolution (by a priest).
    Then, all good.

    Catholic Church makes priests indispensable, and so they retain their high status.

    [Ah, Confession! I remember as a little child having to go to Confession and trying O so very hard to come up with sins to confess. But it had to be done; so sometimes, I just made shit up]

  10. Dunc says

    @ #5: Sure, that’s what they say, but I would argue that their actual behaviour supports my interpretation.

  11. ardipithecus says


    “Pretending might fool a priest, but not the imaginary Bloke who’s actually judging you.”

    It’s the priesthood that turns a blind eye toward sexual abuse. They are the ones who absolve and reward the sinning priests, so they are the ones the predators need to fool. From all I’ve seen, most of them want to be fooled, at least when their colleagues are involved.

    I stopped assuming a long time ago that the upper echelons of the priesthood actually believe in the sky fairy. Maybe some do, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

  12. John Morales says

    I considered whether to note this, and obviously decided to do so, given the thematic linkage.

    So. Old bitter comedians, a recent post, featured this claim:
    “It has become common to hear well-known comedians bemoaning that they are no longer allowed to do the kind of comedy they want to do because audiences have become too touchy and sensitive and object to what they like to think of as ‘edgy’ comedy. People like Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher, Louis CK, and Dave Chappelle are among the most prominent whiners.”

    Here’s an example:
    Louis CK learns about the Catholic Church.

  13. says

    The telling phrase is when Hecker says “It wasn’t a big deal in those days.”

    It’s never been a big deal to a surprising number of people — most of whom (in my own estimation at least) seem to be anti-progressive authoritarians of various sorts. I also remember dime-store-Catholic-apologist Dave Armstrong pretending to disapprove of child-sexual-predators in his Church, but also trying to fend off all the criticism by saying “it’s EVERYWHERE” and trying to imply it’s “anti-Catholic bigotry” to single out his Church.

    We need to remember that there always were, and STILL ARE, lots of people who don’t think sexual abuse of children is a “big deal,” and who are all too happy to sweep it all under any rug they can find; or perhaps simply too unwilling to stand up to the “authorities” in their lives who are doing it.

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