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    PBS’ ‘Frontline’ fails to air in RGV

    Joe Hermosa/Valley Morning Star
    KMBH-TV60, the local PBS affiliate owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, is located in Harlingen.
    [email protected]
    HARLINGEN – The “Hand of God” reached most of the United States Tuesday night, but not the Rio Grande Valley.

    This week’s Public Broadcasting Service’s “Frontline” documentary, an episode called “Hand of God,” dealt with the child molestation scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston. But the program did not air locally.

    KMBH-TV, the local PBS affiliate that is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, instead aired a repeat of the previous week’s “Frontline,” which was about the Taliban of Afghanistan, according to one viewer.

    Another viewer, Gerald Brazier, a member of the church reform group Call to Action RGV, said people who called KMBH about the missing episode on Tuesday were told that the station’s general manager, Monsignor Pedro Brise?±o, wanted to watch “Hand of God” before it aired locally to see if it was appropriate for local viewers.

    A KMBH staff member who refused to give her name said Brise?±o was on a previously scheduled annual religious retreat Thursday and was not available for comment.

    Viewers who called KMBH on Thursday were told “Hand of God” did not air because PBS did not provide it to the station on time for the regular “Frontline” time slot Tuesday night.

    Brownsville Diocese spokeswoman Brenda Nettles Riojas said Thursday she could not contact Brise?±o, but media questions about the “Hand of God” documentary could be sent by e-mail to him and he would respond today.

    Carrie Johnson, senior director of Primetime Publicity for PBS Media Relations in Washington, D.C., said the “Hand of God” episode was fed to PBS stations in the standard manner. The first feed on Jan. 11 was for local programmers to review the episode. A second feed was done at 8 p.m. CDT Tuesday, the scheduled broadcast time for “Frontline.”

    Phil Zimmerman, a promotions assistant for “Frontline,” said the program’s initial research showed that only one other PBS station out of hundreds in the system nationwide did not air “Hand of God,” and that “was due to a scheduling conflict,” he said.

    Most “Frontline” episodes are 60 minutes long; “Hand of God” is 90 minutes in length.

    The local station’s Web site, http://www.kmbh.org, shows a 90-minute block on the Jan. 16 schedule where “Frontline” was scheduled to air.

    “To our knowledge, (KMBH) is the only station that did not broadcast it due to content,” Zimmerman said.

    Johnson said there are more than 340 stations in the PBS system. She said only one other PBS station, KBYU in Provo, Utah, is owned by a religious organization, Brigham Young University, which is in turn owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Johnson said each station decides whether to air any episode of any PBS program.

    Church reform activists who had wanted to view the missing episode were left hanging.

    Brazier said part of the reform Call to Action seeks in the Catholic Church is financial accountability.

    “We want to know where the money goes that we contribute to the church,” said Guy Hallman, another Call to Action RGV member.

    Call to Action RGV also wants to know how much of the Diocese’s money has been paid to victims of sexual abuse by local clergy.

    Sexual abuse by the clergy in all faiths has been a big topic in this country lately, Hallman said.

    “We know there has been some abuse by clergy in this diocese,” Hallman said.

    Hallman blamed the head of the Diocese of Brownsville, Bishop Raymundo Pe?±a, for the show not airing.

    “I can see where this all fits together,” Hallman said. “The bishop doesn’t want people to be reminded that we may have problems right here in our own diocese that haven’t been brought to light.

    “The bishop needs to be reminded that we’re conscious of that and we’re not going to let him just sweep it under the rug.

    “We need to face these problems.”

    Pe?±a, also at the retreat on Thursday, could not be reached for comment.

    on the web

    “Frontline” episode “Hand of God” is available for viewing online at: http://www.pbs.org/



    I saw the first 1.25 hours of the program, it was slanted, but not without it’s merit. I’m sure the bishop who was asked for an interview has been advised by council to not grant interviews on the subject. I am sure there are many men and women who in their early years where seduced and assaulted, as well as molested by clergy who where Catholic. What documenaties and the many written expose written on the subject omit (In my never to be humble opinion) are the following.

    In the context of the time, sex was not discussed anywhere in polite society, let alone in public or the Church.

    Homosexual behavior or pedophilia was discussed even less.

    As this article from the Christian Science Monitor points out the problem is even worse among Protestant Churches. [url:zuqhppn0]http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0405/p01s01-ussc.html[/url:zuqhppn0] Not having the centralized power structure that the Roman Cathilic Church has, offenders could go from congregation to congregation, with the previous committee for hiring the ministers not disclosing what had happened out of fear that they would be branded as enablers for the crime.

    The issue is one of people who are put into positions of power, and not mature enough for it, and the harm they do to those subordinate to them. Pedophilia, and rape are issues not of proper sexual behavior but are crimes of those who have a malfomed psyche.

    Public officials have recently been exposed, (look to Congress, and a couple of Superior Court Judges in Southern California.) A friend in the police force tells me it they turn a blind eye to it in the PD when it happens among the officers.

    [b:zuqhppn0]In summary:[/b:zuqhppn0]
    It is a crime that has happened in all strata of the world since the earliest of times.

    It is always wrong.

    It needs to be discussed and brought out into the open. Offenders need to be isolated from society most of all from those they offended. Not pooled togeather where they can enjoy swapping stories. Victims need to have appropriate therapy, suited to the individual, as one fix does not work for everyone.

    For Catholic Clerics I’d like to see the old degradation of a cleric brought back. Before Vatican II, there was a rite that existed in the Roman Pontifical, (a liturgical book for rites commonly celebrated by Bishops.) After an investigation that proved the charges to be valid, the priest or other cleric was led into the Cathedral vested in the vestments proper to his order. After being formally excorriated for his crime, each of the vestments of his office where removed down to his shirt and pants. If he was a priest or bishop, the places where he had been anointed (hands, and forehead for bishop.) where scraped with a shard of glass, to symbolically remove the anointings, (he remained a priest or bishop, but could not function as so licitly) and he was prodded to the entrance of the Cathedral at the pointy end of the bishop’s crozier into the hands of the Civial Government authorities who arrested him and after a civil trial was punished accordingly.

    Why did the ceremony take place? A priest is subject to much gossip, because he has taken a life of service. He also (in the Western Church) has renounced the pleasures of a wife. So many look on him with confusion. False wittness is brought against priests all the time. A husband who wants to know if his wife is cheating may try to force the woman’s confession out of him by threatening some sort of defamation or harm. For this reason Church law, (Canon Law) requries that a cleric be tried by a Church Court first, and the remedy be administered by a Church Court. The punishment, minus the torture or death penalty is usually much more harsh in the Church. In the past priests who where found guilty where sent to monastic houses where they did great penances, no meat, sleeping on the stone floor, hard labor, attendance at the Divine Liturgy and the Office, but they where not allowed to activly participate in their former roles, etc. For those cases that did not cooperate with the Church, the civil authorities had torture and the death penalty, which the Church granted was within the rights of the Civil authorities to protect the citizens.

    Most of all, the ceremony showed that the Church would not suffer to have such vices among the clergy.

    Looking at it from 21st century minds we sometimes don’t understand why things developed in the past. We don’t understand the culture and moral life of the time. We think of the Middle Ages as ones of darkness that we don’t want to go back to. However there was “back in the day” daily reminders throughout society of the eternal, of sin and it’s punishment, and of the purpose of life, (Confomity to Christ, and the goal of eternal happiness with Christ and the Church Triumphant.)

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