FTN - 5/12/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, the crisis in the Catholic Church and the standoff in the Middle East.

Boston's Cardinal Law is in the middle of a legal deposition that began last week. At issue, how much he knew about the sexual abuse by priests. We'll talk with Eric MacLeish, a victims' attorney who will question Law next month, and Arthur Austin, a victim of sexual abuse.

Then we'll turn to the standoff in the Middle East and talk with both sides, from Israel's Sharon spokesman, Raanan Gissin, and for the Palestinians, Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on graduation. But first, the crisis in the Catholic Church on Face the Nation.

Good morning again.

And joining us now from Boston, Eric MacLeish and Arthur Anderson. Mr. MacLeish is a lawyer; he represents many of the victims. Arthur Austin is a victim. He is not represented by Mr. MacLeish, however.

Well, let me start with you, Mr. MacLeish. You heard this deposition. We all saw this spectacle this week of a cardinal of the Catholic Church being deposed.

First, were you surprised by anything you heard? And second, where does this go from here? I know you will depose the cardinal next month in connection with other cases.

RODERICK MACLEISH, Sexual Abuse Victims' Attorney: Well, I wasn't particularly surprised with a lot of what I heard, because we're talking about matters, quite frankly, Bob, that are really inexcusable -- placing known pedophiles back where they could molest children.

Where this is going to go -- the second day of the deposition was not made available to the public. I suspect it will be within 30 days. I'm going to be deposing Cardinal Law on June 5 about another priest, Paul Shanley, who was an open advocate of man-boy love and who continued his correspondence with the cardinal up through 1997 and 1998.

That's different from this case, where basically in 1993 Father Geoghan was removed from ministry. But this other deposition that we're going to be taking is going to raise, I think, some very difficult questions for the cardinal. And he cannot say at that deposition, "I don't recall," because he was so involved with Paul Shanley.

SCHIEFFER: And Mr. Austin, let me ask you. Now, you have come forward. You were a victim of whom?

ARTHUR AUSTIN, Sexual Abuse Victim: Paul Shanley.

SCHIEFFER: I won't ask you to you go into detail about that, but what was that about? It went on for how long?

AUSTIN: It went on for six years. My abuse went on for six years.

SCHIEFFER: And why did you decide now to come forward?

AUSTIN: I actually came forward to the archdiocese in 1998. I had been in therapy for most of my life, actually. At that time, it occurred to me, since I had never seen anything about Shanley in the news, I wondered -- I had wondered for years if I were the only victim, and it occurred to me that perhaps I wasn't. And I went to them to get my voice on the record in case other victims ever came forward. Of course I found out that other victims had come forward long before I had.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you one thing. This is obviously very difficult even now for you to talk about, and I detect that from your voice this morning. Is there an aftermath to this? Do these things continue on long after the abuse? Or is it something that can be overcome quickly?

AUSTIN: There are many parts to that question.

Certainly on one level, it never ends for the victims. Almost every victim suffers from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not curable in any sense that we understand curable. Trauma victims actually have the chemistry of their brain altered. They store memory in a different way, which is why flashbacks are not memory, they're present tense. You're there again, you're reliving the moment, you're not remembering the moment. It's a different way that memory is stored and represented.

So, you know, certainly that is something that all victims are going to struggle with for the rest of their lives. Whether the cardinal tells the truth in his deposition or not is almost beside the point, in terms of that.

In other terms, more immediate worldly terms, the Church continues to abuse victims. You know, this nicety of the law which is, you know, the negligence of the plaintiff is an abomination. It's just -- and certainly to use it against any victim of sexual abuse, but to use it against someone like Greg Ford, who was 6 years old when his abuse began, is blasphemy.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Mr. MacLeish, last week the Catholic Church backed out of a settlement that would have provided somewhere between $15 million to $30 million to victims, to abuse victims of Father Geoghan. Why do you think that happened?

MACLEISH: Well, I don't really know. I think what they said is that there was a flood of new cases that had come forward since they first made that deal.

I can tell you, just to follow up on what Arthur said, that how that affected those victims, who had put months and months into this settlement, all of whom, all 86 had signed and then suddenly the Church just walks away from it, it was absolutely catastrophic.

You know, we've had blaming the gays that came out of the Vatican summit for a lot of this, blaming the victims. The truth of how we have to solve this matter lies with the cardinals and the people that are going to be convening in Dallas in June looking in the mirrors and realizing they have a colossal leadership problem.

And that's what I really hope comes out of the meeting in June, that there will start to be an understanding that the bishops and the cardinals who protected these people are really to blame.

This is a good church. The priests who do everyday work are fantastic in the vast majority of instances. They have been victimized too. This is a leadership issue.

BORGER: Are you going to go to that conference in June?

MACLEISH: Well, we asked to go, and the reason we asked to go is because there's a lot of people who want to have the cardinals and the leadership in the church hear from the victims' perspective, because they still don't get it. I mean, what came out of Rome, as I said, was really unfortunate, particularly with respect to the, what I would call really the gay bashing or blaming this on homosexuals. It just wasn't appropriate.

But we have to have a constructive dialogue with this church. And we have to start. We may disagree on many things; I suspect that we will, but at least let's have a dialogue.

And I've been encouraged by some of the correspondence that I've gotten as recently as this week, that we are going to have that opportunity so that people can hear firsthand what it is like in a very Catholic culture to be a young child, an older child, or someone victimized in therapy, what it's like in that culture to be victimized by a priest. The cardinals need to hear this face to face.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Austin, what do you want from the Church now? What do you think would be the right thing for them to do? What would be the most helpful thing that the Church could do?

AUSTIN: Currently, I think, you know, barring the settlements that they owe victims, if they have any sense of morality or decency, there should be funds made available, not to specific persons as such, but for things like, you know, a hotline that victims can call or, more particularly, I think -- and this is an issue that people are overlooking completely -- is the families of victims, the impact this has on families of victims. They have nowhere to turn for help. And the impact on them is just colossal and endless. There are no resources there. There is no place to turn.

I mean, the very least the Church can do, even as it cries poor mouth, is to make funds available, you know, on a general level, for the victims and families of victims who continue to suffer monstrously and who bear incredible financial burdens. A lot of victims don't have medical insurance, cannot get therapy. You know, this is completely unconscionable. And this is quite aside from anything about personal, individual settlements.

SCHIEFFER: Does the cardinal have to be removed for the Church to get beyond this?

AUSTIN: I think the cardinal has to be removed. I'm not sure that removing him is going to get beyond it. The cardinal's simply the symptom of a disease in the Church, which is, you know, a corrupted management, a corrupted governance. And you know, he can go and they can appoint someone equally as despicable. And what have we got to hope for?

So it really is a question of addressing the Church systemically, not just, you know, archbishop by archbishop. It's, you know -- the old saying on the piers was, the fish rots from the head down.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's get Mr. MacLeish's comment on that.
What does the Church have to do here?

MACLEISH: Well, I think that there is an immediate thing that has to be addressed and then a longer-term focus.

The immediate focus of it has to be on things like Arthur is talking about.

Right now, if you want to get mental health assistance from the Archdiocese of Boston, you have to physically appear at the chancery to do that. And, of course, that policy varies throughout the country. We're here at the epicenter in Boston; this is happening all around the country.

But at minimum, the Church has to reach out and address what is an immediate crisis among victims and their families that very much need assistance.

Longer term, Bob, I think you've got to focus on things like whether or not this Church needs to fundamentally change in a way that allows 50 percent of the world's population to be a part of it -- women.

SCHIEFFER: All right. I think we have to leave it there.

When we come back -- thank both of you very much.

MACLEISH: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we're going to talk about the continuing crisis in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We turn now to the Middle East, and it is a little quieter there than it has been. We are told that Israeli officials are now telling reporters that the expected offensive into Gaza has been postponed or at least put on hold for a while. There are also church services this morning in the Church of the Nativity, which, of course, was under siege for these past few weeks.

Joining us to talk about it this morning is a spokesman for the PLO. He is in Ramallah. It is Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Mr. Rabbo, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

YASSER ABED RABBO, Palestinian Information Minister: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: First, what do you know and what do you make of these reports that the Israelis have decided to put this offensive on hold?

RABBO: Well, in fact there was a real American pressure on the Israelis in order to stop their attack against Gaza. And also I think the Egyptian president and other European leaders had interfered in order to stop this, because an incursion inside Gaza will lead into a real massacre. Gaza is the most populated area in the whole world. And it's a very tiny place. And that's why the attack will cause a real disaster to the people inside Gaza.

And thanks to this pressure, the American, the Egyptian, the European, that had obliged the Israelis to stop or at least to postpone their reoccupation of Gaza.

BORGER: Would it be impossible to crack down on Hamas if the Israelis went into Gaza?

RABBO: Well, the Israeli army had been cracking down again the Palestinian Authority and against our security services. And at the same time, everybody is asking the Palestinian Authority and our security services to arrest people of Hamas and to control the security conditions. This is impossible. They weaken us and at the same time they ask us to do our maximum.

This gives us a lesson and a conclusion that the aim of the Israeli government is not, in fact, to weaken Palestinian extremists. It is, in fact, to weaken Palestinian moderates and the Palestinian Authority, because this Israeli government does not intend to start a real, genuine peace process.

This is the real problem. They want to keep the occupation, and at the same time they want to get peace. It's impossible to get both.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about the 16 Hamas members who are arrested after the bombing last week. There are reports, and they come from Israeli officials, of course, that these are really just low-level Hamas officials.

Can you tell us about them and what you intend to do with them?

RABBO: Well, in fact, these were people who were really involved in planning certain terrorist actions, and that's why we stopped them. Whether they are low-level, mid-level, higher-level, this is not the issue.

The issue is that we are doing our maximum. But we are doing this in the most difficult conditions. Nobody can ask us to do more as long as the Israeli army is continuing to attack our posts, our towns, cities, villages. They are killing more civilians everywhere in the Palestinian occupied territories. And...

SCHIEFFER: I take your point. But let me just ask you, what do you intend to do with them? Will you put them on trial? What happens now?

RABBO: Well, they are now under detention and they will be interrogated. And we have, of course, our courts and our law, and they will be tried. And they will have the full rights as any other Palestinian citizen.

BORGER: Is it possible that Mr. Arafat might accept some sort of figurehead position and allow somebody else to become the chief negotiator for the Palestinians?

RABBO: I don't know why everybody is busy to find a new job or to diminish the role of President Arafat. This is not the problem. Every time we try to address the basic issues, we are dragged to discuss very marginal issues.

This is our system, and he is our elected president. We want to have new elections, but it is impossible to have new elections under occupation with the present circumstances.

So let the occupation end. Let the Israeli army withdraw from our homeland, and the next day we will have elections. And in these elections, maybe we'll choose another leader or maybe we'll choose President Arafat again.

But nobody can impose his own system upon us. Maybe we will choose the American system for presidency and not the Israeli system. This is up to our people to decide.

SCHIEFFER: OK. All right. Very good, Mr. Rabbo. Thank you very much for presenting your side of it. Thank you very much.

And joining us now from Jerusalem, Raanan Gissin, who is the adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

First, Mr. Gissin, about this...

RAANAN GISSIN, Adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Sharon: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: How are you, sir? And about this so-called invasion we've been hearing of of Gaza, has that been postponed? Has it been put off? What exactly happened?

GISSIN: Well, you know that this is really subject to operational considerations. But also to show you that when we exercise our right of self-defense, and that's exactly what we were about to do, we take a whole gamut of considerations into that, and not just the immediate need to strike at the terrorists, which have not stopped, by the way, from Gaza, since the end of our Operation Defensive Shield.

We have not touched Gaza before. But we had almost daily occurrences of suicide bombing. Fifteen suicide, homicide bombers were intercepted, two of them from Gaza. And one, which we failed to intercept, hit my hometown and killed 16 innocent men, women and children.

So there is a whole host of consideration that come here to play. And I think this is a proof that we are not seeking war, but rather seeking a way how to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, which is the first prerequisite if we are to move on the road to renewing the political process.

BORGER: So would you say that this has been postponed or canceled?

GISSIN: Well, I would say at this stage it has been postponed because we haven't seen any letdown of terrorist activity from the Gaza district. As I said, we have daily occurrences. As a matter of fact, today an Israeli settler, Israeli citizen, a father of six, was brutally murdered in his greenhouse in the Rafa area. And so every day we have an incident.

The fact that we are taking preventive measure is what has reduced the number of successful suicide, homicide bombings. But there hasn't been any action on the part of the Palestinian Authority, and for that matter, real vigorous action on the part of the Arab leaders to stop this horrendous type of suicide, homicide killing, which is, by the way, threatens also Palestinian society and its integrity.

SCHIEFFER: You just heard from the Palestinian spokesman, as we did. Do you think that Mr. Sharon could ever negotiate with Yasser Arafat?

GISSIN: Well, look, if Yasser Arafat ever changes his positions and drops the strategy of terror which he adopted and dismantles the coalition of terror which he built, then he could be a partner. But, you know, regrettably, I must say that for the past 18 months -- or I would say for the past two years, Yasser Arafat has proved just the opposite.

He violated every agreement that he signed. He had showed no intention whatsoever of stopping the bloodshed, which he, by the way, initiated, when he had really an opportunity to lead his people in a different course and realize most of their aspirations.

So it's not a personal question. It's not really a personal question. It's a question of a way that the Palestinian people have to decide, which way do they want to adopt? The road to terrorism, continued bloodshed, or the road to peace?

BORGER: Is the exile of Mr. Arafat still under serious discussion?

GISSIN: Well, at this stage, as I said, we are not dealing with a personal predicament of Mr. Arafat. We have consented to allow him freedom of movement with the anticipation and expectation, as I believe some U.S. officials have, that he will be able to take some action to stop this violent terrorist activity. But I say regrettably we haven't seen any indication whatsoever on the ground that this is the case.

What we are seeing is that the majority of the Palestinian people are really sick and tired of this continuing bloodshed that leads them nowhere. And therefore, we offered and we said the first step is those reforms, government reforms, economic reforms, which are a prerequisite if there is to be a movement toward a constructive dialogue between the two sides.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, sir. I'm sorry; our time is up. We have to leave it there. But thanks for being with us this morning.
We'll be back in a minute with a final word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, the month of May is graduation time all across America. And yesterday I made the commencement address at TCU, my old school.

For me, being asked to speak was an honor. And, considering my grades, I'm sure it was an unexpected development for all of those professors who taught me.

Everyone has a favorite holiday -- Thanksgiving, July 4th, the religious observances, of course, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah. And each of those holidays reminds us of a magnificent achievement or a great moral truth.

But for me, the best holiday is Graduation Day. It is not about something else. It is about the people in the room and the families who have come to celebrate their achievement.

Each family member sees graduation in a different way: The proud grandparents who never doubted, not for a minute, not for a day, that the graduates had what it took to get that diploma. The surprised brothers and sisters who were not so sure about all that. And of course the parents who paid for it.

I told the graduates yesterday they would not remember what I said. No one ever remembers graduation speeches, but I told them they would always remember Graduation Day. And that's as it should be. Because graduation is not about speeches, it's about what the graduates have done.

So I told them to remember instead why it was they felt so good yesterday. It was not because they had a piece of paper that declared them to be college graduates, but because they had set out to do something and they did it, which is the best feeling in life.

So, in this graduation season, I want to take a minute here to wish the very best to all of you who are graduating, and to the parents you have made so proud. What you've done is a big deal. Don't let anybody tell you it isn't.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week, right here on Face the Nation.




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  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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