Friday, January 25, 2013

Father Gordon MacRae: "What the Jews know of Justice"

The following is an excerpt from a recent post by Father Gordon MacRae who has been imprisoned for 18 years  - apparently based on false charges. His comments underline the fact that the suffering of child abuse - both that of victims and the falsely accused - must be dealt with fully and openly as a society. When a community - whether Jewish or non-Jewish, secular or religious - betrays the victims and those falsely accused in order to  protect their public image  - the resulting soul searing anguish is perhaps worse than the abuse itself. The G-d given goal of society is justice to protect individuals - not to sacrifice them.

These Stone Walls   [...] WHAT THE JEWS KNOW OF JUSTICE [...]

One of our earliest TSW subscribers is Jacob, a devoutly Jewish man from the San Francisco Bay area. Jacob writes to me on occasion, though as usual I’m very delinquent in responding. One of Jacob’s letters has always stood out. He wrote that the pursuit of justice is valued very highly in the Jewish community. He wrote that the Torah admonishes us three times that, “Justice, justice, justice shalt thou seek.”

Catholics – and I’m not excluding bishops and priests – could learn a few things about justice from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Late last month, a TSW reader sent me an example in a surprising December 16 blog post entitled “Father Gordon MacRae – Imprisoned for Abuse Payoff?” It was posted by psychologist and rabbinical scholar, Daas Torah on his website of the same name. The site is subtitled “Issues of Jewish Identity.” Daas Torah has authored several books on child and domestic abuse in the Jewish community and is considered an expert in this field.

After a decade of official Catholic efforts to appear sufficiently harsh and unmerciful in heavy-handed condemnation of accused priests, Catholic leaders might take a cue from Daas Torah and the Jewish community’s grappling with these same issues. Some of the comments by Daas Torah’s readers on his post about me reveal a basic tenet of justice that somehow became lost as we addressed the burgeoning Catholic scandal a decade ago. Daas Torah’s Jewish readers are firm in their opinion that victims of real abuse are not at all served by presumptions of guilt and sabotaging the rights of the accused. Here’s an example by a commentator reacting to Daas Torah’s presentation of the case against me:
“Innocent victims who were targeted by false allegations . . . is another thing the victim community does not want to hear . . . Don’t assume that all victims consider themselves to be well-represented by the political activists. Many victims are exceptionally sensitive to injustice. This is also true in the Catholic community, where groups like SNAP want to bury cases like MacRae’s because they undermine sound-bite propaganda.”
Daas Torah’s post included a link to a 2012 update on this story. As a prisoner with no on-line access, I had only a printed version that was sent to me so I had to ask someone to go online to find out what this “update” link was. Surprisingly, it’s a link to an article by Ryan MacDonald entitled, “Judge Arthur Brennan Sentenced Father Gordon MacRae to Die in Prison.

Fellow Catholics, take note of this. Salvation came to us from the Jews. And lest any of us wonder whether Catholics are ready to hear another side of this decade of scandal in the Catholic Church, we need look no further than The Media Report which a few weeks ago posted its year end “Top Ten Stories of 2012.” In Part 2 of that post, the Top Five, The Media Report’s most visited and cited story of 2012 was David Pierre’s coverage of my defense in “Exclusive Report: Alarming New Evidence May Exonerate Imprisoned Priest.” [...]


  1. "Father" !

    ? Is it not against halacha to use the term? Didn't Rav Elyashiv send a Rav to greet the pope and ask him about kevarim being descecrated or something of that nature, and caused a big media tumult because he didn't call him father?

    1. Please provide halachic sources for your claim

    2. How could we even entertain that such honorary terms, having no implications regarding Torah observance, are prohibited? Whether a Reform rabbi can be addressed as "rabbi"--OK, there we have a question. But employing non-Jewish titles (the earning of which implies years of supervised study, service, etc.) to those so honored by a congregation of non-Jews just seems good, basic derekh eretz.

  2. > could learn a few things about justice from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews.

    What, like preventing the reporting of crimes, harassing the victims into not pressing charges, screaming "mesirah" at anyone who wants something done about the problem, etc?

  3. My Judaism doesn't recognize "divinity" belonging to any other religion. The story Moshe reffered to is partially here.

    The Chief Rabbi of Poland addressed the pope as Mr. Pope instead of ...?

    1. you haven't shown any source that the term "father" is an acknowledgement of prohibited divinity rather than one of respect.

      you will note in the above story he addressed the pope by the title pope which itself means father [The pope (from Latin: papa; from Greek: πάππας (pappas), a child's word for father) wikipedia]

      addressing him as "Your holiness" is obviously a totally different issue.

    2. Gentiles can't be holy? If they can be righteous, presumably they can also rise to some level of holiness, no? The assumption that they are bound by the Sheva Mitzvos implies that they can be holy--on which, see the Biur Halakha, H' Shabbas, s' 304, where he rules that a Gentile can be meqabel any of the Taryag, even shabbas.

      In any case, the point is likely moot, since I believe that the Church (and, for that matter, the minor Churches offshoot from it) only bestows official appellations of holiness posthumously ("Saint...", "Blessed...", notably), living titles all implying respect-worthiness ("His Eminence...", "the Reverend...", etc.).

    3. Actually I retract; a little websurfing turned up that, uniquely, the Pope is addressed as "Your Holiness." ("...Eminence" is apparently just for Cardinals, the next step down.)

    4. ...meaning, I retract only that the point would be moot.

  4. You commenters must be joking. "Father" is not the desecration highlighted in this story. A man has spent 18 years in prison for an unjust conviction. We should be a lot more concerned about the "justice" of that desecration.


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