My ongoing war with the Catholic church is one that is very simple to explain; when they knew kids were being abused, and the word abused hardly begins to describe what was happening in nearly every country where there was a priest and a child alone together, the church did nothing. The pope did nothing. The bishops did nothing. They let things go the way things had always gone because that was the path of least resistance.
I am a man without a religion for many reasons but when it gets right down to it I have discovered religion does not equal spirituality and it sure as hell doesn’t equal morality. One of the things I have always believed in was football, until Mike Vick was convicted of dog fighting and then I realized it was not only a business but one without a soul. College football with its factories and payoffs seemed less tainted in some way but I am no virgin when it comes to being cynical. Yet Joe Paterno, the legendary coach of Penn State, stands accused of being told a child, a ten year old boy, was assaulted by one of his coaches. Paterno took the information to his supervisor and then …nothing happened. The abuse continued. More children were assaulted.
The welfare of children has to, has to, has to, come before the hierarchy of a church. It has to be more important than the position of anyone in the church. Those who harm must pay and those who ignore, or cover up, or refuse to act in defense of the children must be held accountable.
Joe Pa has been coaching at Penn State for forty-six years. He has won more games than anyone else. He is more than just a man, he is a legend. He has more games, more bowl games, than anyone else alive or dead or anywhere in between. Yet can we, as a nation, as football fans, as advocates for children, and who, who among us can afford, morally, not to be an advocate for children, can we afford not to demand this man be fired?
Paterno had an obligation to do more to protect a child and protect children and he failed that obligation for reason even worse than those of a priest. Of all people, he alone was, and is, the most powerful man standing on that campus. No matter how many games he has one, he has lost the one thing that really matters, truly matters in this case. He has lost the trust of people with children, and he will never get it back.
It is time to fire Joe Paterno.