Sun, Dec. 15

Scandals have ways of becoming distant memories

It was at the height of the Evan Meacham and Charles Keating fiascoes. Being an Arizonan was the punch line for every kind of joke imaginable. We were lampooned every day of the week by late-night TV hosts. We were fodder for Saturday Night Live spoofs. The National Football League considered us such a pariah that it took the Super Bowl away from us.

We survived it all. It's now a distant memory for those who remember it at all.

The same will hold true for those Arizonans who are members of the Roman Catholic Church. First, there was the sex scandal that rocked the church from one end of the nation to the other. Then, there was a written admission by the bishop of the Phoenix Diocese that he reassigned offending priests to new posts where they still would have contact with children. Things went from bad to worse when the bishop changed his story, telling the media he never covered up sex abuse by priests and had never intentionally placed a child in a dangerous situation.

Now, there is this week's bombshell about Bishop Thomas O'Brien being involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. The tragedy was compounded with reports that he attempted to get the windshield replaced in his car before police could catch up with him.

There is an old saying that you really cannot enjoy the good times until you have endured the bad. This is obviously a time of enduring for Catholics in general and Arizona Roman Catholics in particular.

They will get through it.

Certainly O'Brien didn't ascend to his position with the church because of sex scandals and hit-and-run accidents. The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that O'Brien "is the kind of bishop who would say Mass at the prison every Christmas rather than leave the duty to someone else." Unfortunately, human nature is such that he will be remembered more for his misdeeds than for the good he accomplished during his life.

Nor will he be remembered for making the key decision necessary for the church to move past these current scandals. He submitted his resignation to the Pope.

He put himself second and the Church first.

He took the essential step for the healing to begin.

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