Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sally Kalson v Catholic Church AND Big Ben

Our much beloved Sally Kalson shares some insight into the cult of athletic personality.

Steelers President Art Rooney II said on Thursday that appropriate discipline would be forthcoming in a few weeks. After that, he said, "We intend to allow Ben the opportunity to prove to us he is the teammate and citizen we all believe he is capable of being."

How are they going to do that -- put him in a bar full of wasted college girls and see if he can resist?

I'd like to see him rehabilitated, too. I'd also like to see the rest of us get real about our expectations of professional athletes. This pedestal thing is getting old.

These are men who happen to be extraordinarily good at their sport. The notion that this makes them role models in any other aspect of life not only makes no sense, it has been shot through with holes time and again.

Of course, the pros may be upstanding people, generous, fair-minded, good examples for young people. But that's because of who they are (like Troy Polamalu and Charlie Batch), not what they do on the field.

The job makes them rich and famous, puts them in the public eye. It does not automatically bestow wisdom, character, humility or common sense. If anything, the huge amounts of money and misplaced hero worship can work against those traits.

Off the job, sports stars should be held to the same laws and standards of common decency as the rest of us. Expecting them to be paragons of virtue, however, is asking for disappointment.

It's possible that Ben can still become a decent person and a great asset to the team. Meanwhile, we'd do well to look for heroes elsewhere.

From a public point of view, I think Sally is on to something. However, from a business point of view, the Rooney's ARE paying Big Ben to be a hero and the morality clauses widens that definition beyond job performance. It might be nice if there was a concrete way to define "hero" ... or put some of the onus of encouraging mature behavior on the shoulders of those raking in millions alongside the heros.

Fans assuming some of the responsibility for our expectations is a good start.

Sally herself was the target of another piece in the Forum section as Bishop Zubik took aim at the liberal media for picking on poor Pope Benedict.

I was wondering how bad it could get. Then Sally Kalson began her column in last Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with the following:

" 'When I was growing up, just about every parish had its pedophile priest and everybody knew who it was,' said my friend Carrie, who attended Roman Catholic schools just outside of Pittsburgh in the 1960s."

I didn't have to wonder any longer.

That charge was the lead in Ms. Kalson's column and a slap in the face of the 342 priests of this diocese who serve so faithfully with me. It was an attack on my flock, the nearly 800,000 members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It was never qualified, never modified. It simply was there in print as fact.

If you crunch the numbers of priests and parishes at that time, Ms. Kalson basically let the claim stand unchallenged that roughly 60 percent of the priests serving in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the mid-1960s were pedophiles.

Slanderous and outrageous? Sure. But that's how bad it has become.

Bishop Zubik is basically telling us to get over it already because the Church certainly has done their best to make it right. As a girl who grew up in a Pittsburgh Catholic diocese helmed by a pedophile in the 1980's, I do not buy it. Someone put Father John Wellinger into Holy Spirit Parish in West Mifflin and I've yet to see anyone who was of adult age at that point in time take responsibility for it. No one has ever contacted me to apologize. I was friends with some of his victims and can attest to the destruction he sowed as late as 1988. Not quite as far away as Bishop Zubik would like you to believe.

We may have to give our athletes a little wiggle room when it comes to conduct, but I'm tired of the "poor me" mentality of these Catholic thugs with their blame it on the homosexuals/liberal media defense posture. Your failure to take action to protect ME and my friends, Bishop Zubik, has done irreparable damage.

But I do hope there will be a little more care taken before we give credence to every charge, along with a little more responsible thinking before dragging through the mud a church that has done more to address this horrible tragedy than any other entity.

It is a bit eerie really, the parallels. Blame the victim. Protect the institution. Blah. Blah. Blah.

It is really sad when we anticipate justice from the Rooneys before the Vatican. How screwed up are those expectations!


  1. Sorry, you and Sally are both WAY out of line here. Why not accuse all Native Americans of alcoholism or Italians of belonging to the mafia? I'm sure that Sally would object to painting all of those of the Jewish faith a certain way. Why? Because it simply is not so, and Sally should know better.

    I feel deeply angry at the priests who injured those most in need of their kindness. They have smeared a group that has done much good not only in Pittsburgh, but the world. To paint an entire occupation with a single brush is unbelievably grotesque. I'm sorry that your friends were molested by this monster of a human being, it was reprehensible behavior for any human, let alone a priest, however, the vast majority of Catholic priests have tirelessly worked to help our youth and society in general. I'm sure you will have a quick and smart answer for my statements, and I'm certain that my small words will do nothing to change your mind. I feel the absolute need to defend the reputation of the countless outstanding Catholic priests that I have encountered throughout my life. They deserve to be treated as the wonderful and productive human beings that they are, not as a collection of "Catholic thugs." You have every right to your opinion, I have every right to mine, but no one has the right to slander an entire profession of people. For the first time in my life, I feel that my RELIGION is under attack, it is bad enough that many of these foul accusations are true, but it is sickening when I realize the glee that the press takes in each and every scandal.

  2. Your Church as an institution is under scrutiny for its epic failure to protect children. I'm sure that feels awful, but the innocent priests must realize that the tremendous decades of pain inflicted by priests and bishops has to be acknowledged for the entire Church to heal.

    Where do we take our pain, Anonymous? I ask as a woman, a lesbian and a former child living with a pedophile leading our flock. I'm sorry if you feel attacked, but frankly, that's a consequence of your membership in the Catholic Church -- not those who are trying to right a wrong.

    If you think the members of the media take "glee" in the violation of a child, you are committing the same sin of overgeneralization.