Most Catholics in Baltimore managed to shrug off the revelations of sexual abuse by the clergy and the cover-ups by the hierarchy. They didn’t read the books, they scanned the newspaper articles and were upset for a few seconds and then stopped reading. The hierarchy made some pretext of stopping the abuse, and then continued its policy of obfuscation and denial.

But the Netflix series “The Keepers” seems finally to have gotten the attention of those who didn’t want to believe how bad things are. The murder of Sister Cathy was entwined with the stories of sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough, a girls’ high school in Baltimore.

As reviewers have noticed, the series is not like other True Crime stories, because this series focuses on the victims, and the victims of sexual abuse by Father Maskell are still alive and can tell their stories.

Germans managed to construct a protective barrier between themselves and the Holocaust until the soap opera “Shoah” pierced that barrier and made the Germans start to come to terms with what their nation had done to the Jews. Perhaps “The Keepers” will do the same for Catholics.

Someone told me that he thought Archbishop Lori of Baltimore is a holy and humble man. I am no judge of his soul, but:

Ryan White, who made the series “The Keepers,“ asked the Archdiocese of Baltimore for its file of the abuser Father Maskell. The Archdiocese of Baltimore (that is, Archbishop Lori) is still refusing to release its file on Maskell, even though making the file public might help solve Sister Cathy’s murder. Its excuse is that the file contains personal information that cannot be legally released:

“Archdiocesan records related to Maskell are confidential, and Archdiocesan policy and state law would preclude us from disclosing much of the information in them as they include confidential personal information (e.g. names of alleged sexual abuse victims), personnel records, health records, attorney-client communications, personally identifying information (such as social security numbers), etc.”

But, of course the personal information could be redacted, that is, blacked out; this is standard procedure in releasing court files.

The second reason the Archdiocese gave for not releasing the file is that the file is confidential, which means that it is not its policy to release the file. That is, the Archdiocese (again, Archbishop Lori) is saying that it is not releasing the file because it does not want to release the file—even though it might help solve a murder.

Perhaps the Archdiocese does not want the murder solved because it fears that Maskell was indeed involved in it. Or perhaps the file simply shows the incompetence and carelessness of the Archdiocese in investigating allegations of sexual abuse. As “The Keepers” shows, incompetence and carelessness were also present in the law enforcement agencies that were supposed to be investigating the abuse. No one really cared much that girls were being abused or that Sister Cathy was murdered. They were just little people, not like state officials or bishops, who are the only people who really matter.

For other clerical murder cases, see The Murder of Irene Garza and the case of Ryan Erickson.



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