In reality it was both. But thanks to Bishop Fitzgerald, Bishop Watters, Bishop Harrington, Archbishop Roach, and other members of our Catholic Church hierarchy – members of the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of the Metro – it became much more.
When confronted by a man who claimed his three brothers and others had been abused by Father Adamson, Bishop Watters is reported to have responded that “little boys heal.”
When informed by another priest that Adamson had had sex with a little boy, Archbishop Roach simply told the priest to “handle it” and then the archdiocese began to “posture itself in such a way that any publicity will be minimized.”
Reports from relatives were trivialized and the behavior was covered-up and Father Adamson was pushed to and froe throughout the diocese.
Reports from priests led to decisions to cover-up the conduct and Father Adamson was pushed to and froe throughout the Archdiocese, with a cautionary measure to ensure that his assignments were not in parishes that were close to the Diocese of Winona.
Now, Adamson himself admits that all of these things happened. Now, Adamson himself confirms that he was laicized in 2008 and is drawing a full pension and health insurance benefits from the Diocese of Winona.
This is where the people in the pews can exercise some measure of control over an organization that has shown great dysfunction with respect to this issue.
The Diocese of Winona routinely holds special collections during the month of December. Ninety percent of the monies donated to these special collections will go to the “Retirement Fund for Religious.” This year, that collection will take place on Sunday, December 14. Next year that collection will take place on Sunday, December 13.
No matter what sort of a shell game the Diocese of Winona chooses to play with its funds, it is clear that Thomas Adamson – although he is no longer a member of the “religious” – benefits from these donations.
It appears that Adamson has been able to come to terms with his actions. After all, in his eighties, it is likely that he is better able to control urges to play with little boys. But the hierarchy appears to be locked in time. With systems in place so that the bishops can plausibly deny responsibility for the continued cover-ups, the Bishop of the Diocese of Winona and the Archbishop of the Metro remain entrenched in their denials, reinforced by their own forgetfulness and the willingness to deflect responsibility to others.
Yes, even today, the hierarchy resists efforts to seek justice for those children who were molested by Father Adamson. Even today, the hierarchy resists efforts to seek justice for those adults whose lives were devastated by the abuse inflicted upon them in their youth by representatives of Christ on earth. After all, “little boys heal” so “handle it.”
Nevertheless, one still has to ask, what would Jesus do?
This commentary was subsequently published June 5, 2014 in the print edition of the Winona Daily News.