In our reporting on Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn's agreement to come under supervision by the Clay County, Mo., prosecutor, we noted that such agreements are rare. A similar arrangement was made in 2003 between the Maricopa County, Ariz., attorney and then-Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien.
O'Brien had been accused of hiding pedophile priests by shuffling them around the diocese. The county attorney granted O'Brien immunity from criminal charges after he acknowledged he had exposed children to harm and agreed to a series of policy changes within the diocese.
[Shortly after this agreement was made, O'Brien was involved in a hit-and-run accident in which a pedestrian was killed. O'Brien fled the scene, but was tried and found guilty. He ended up doing community service.]
Fast-forward eight years, and we learn that O'Brien is to be honored at the Catholic Community Foundation's big yearly fundraising event called the Crozier Gala. The Catholic Community Foundation is a $50 million foundation founded by O'Brien 28 years ago to support Catholic institutions and missions in Phoenix.
Read more about this in a piece by E. J. Montini, columnist for The Arizona Republic: Disgraced bishop does not deserve an honor.
The families of abuse survivors are, of course, outraged.
I have the same question as former County Attorney Rick Romley, who forged the agreement with O'Brien in 2003: "Is our memory that bad?" he says in Montini's story.
"It's not about continuing to persecute O'Brien," Romley said. "He's fulfilled his obligation to society. But honoring him? Come on."