The story of this case is a long and twisted one. In 2002, a funeral director and an intern were shot. In late 2004, the police were zeroing in on a Catholic priest who hung himself before the police could get to him.
St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson has said evidence suggested O'Connell learned the priest was sexually abusing someone, was providing alcohol to minors, or both.
Because Rev. Erickson died before he could be questioned, there is no way for us to know if this was true. But the family of the funeral director, the O'Connells, sued the Catholic Diocese of Superior to see if they could get information regarding Rev. Erickson. But that wasn't all, they wanted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to release all their documents regarding the molestation of minors by priests.
But the case has been dismissed. The reasons are understandable given the facts of the case. The judge ruled that it had no basis in Wisconsin law, and that there is no proof that Rev. Erickson's accused pedophilia made him more likely to kill someone.
But Thomas O'Connell told KSTP-TV in St. Paul that he was disappointed with the ruling.
"Where does church and state, the First Amendment, protect a molester?" he asked.
This is also true. I can see why this specific case couldn't crack open the USCCB's filing cabinets, but I can sort of see the outline of a case that could. If someone could show that they need to see those papers in order to protect children right now, or that the USCCB is protecting someone who has broken the law, then maybe the papers that the O'Connell's were after would have to be given to the court.
The issues that the Catholic Church is dealing with in all this are problems that see boggling to many of us. The way many religions repress the sexuality of their followers, it seems to me obvious that those sexual urges are going to get pushed out in twisted, wrong ways. You can push people's urges down, but the vessel that holds them wont always be able to hold that pressure, and the seems fail and the pressure is released in all the wrong ways. Its just so sad that so many people and children get hurt when the pressure finally gets out.