How did that conservation go?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…we understand that Saints owner Gayle Benson has a “close” friendship with Archbishop Gregory Aymond, according to media reports.

But a close friendship is one thing. Each and everyone of us is free to choose our best buds. Hey, we have close friends here at The Tribune. All of our close friends know NOT to text, e-mail or call any one of us for help hiding bodies, burying skeletons or handling a priest pedophilia scandal. While “friend” and “fool” both start with the letter “f”, the similarities stop there.

And with that, we are quite curious as to how that conversation came about—the one wherein folk with the New Orleans Archdiocese were encouraged to contact public relations officials with the New Orleans Saints organization for direction or advice on how to handle the release of the names of priests and other church officials against whom credible claims of sexual abuse have been made as this pedophilia scandal continues to unveil, unfold and rock the Catholic church.

The only other conversation we are more curious about is the one wherein Saints public relations officials were actually directed to extend any advice of any sort to local Catholic church officials on how they should handle the scrutiny, questions or legal action that has come about as a result of its decades long practice of protecting priests and other church leaders that have molested children.

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat thought dat was a good a idea?

The NFL announced that it won’t be investigating the Saints organization for its role in this e-mail scandal.

Okay, pin right here. So, the NFL fines Saints player Demario Davis for wearing a headband that says “man of God”, but Roger Godell has nothing to say about the Saints organization using official team resources (e-mails, staff time) to help the Archdiocese of New Orleans handle a pedophilia scandal. Yes, we know Davis later won his appeal against the fines. But as a matter of principle, one must admit that this entire situation is unnerving and wreaks of a double-standard. You can’t rep God on the gridiron, while it’s entirely cool to use NFL team resources to provide consultation to an organization that has spent decades protecting pedophiles (and itself) on how it can continue to protect pedophiles…(and itself).

And here’s the part that is even more mind-boggling. The Saints and the Catholic Church are still trying to block the release of their e-mail exchanges related to the church’s handling of the names of those accused of sexual abuse.

There’s nothing to hide, they say.

Okay, then stop fighting the release of the e-mails. Or is it that there is more to the back and forth between the two organizations than they want the Associated Press, the lawyers of the molestation victims and the general public to know? Could it be that now, in hindsight, they are realizing how utterly inappropriate this was?

Nope, that is not the case at all.

In fact, they are digging in. The Saints’ attorney, E. Dirk Wegmann,  has been vehemently defending his client in this matter. According to media reports, he is calling allegations that Saints’ public relations help was improper “nothing more than a clear attack on the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church for wrongs of the past that the church has acknowledged.”

No, Mr. Wegmann, any help the Saints extended to the Catholic Church regarding handling or spinning pedophilia was just plain old improper. From a purely organizational standpoint, the church’s pedophilia problem was not the Saint’s business. And any response other than no response was a middle finger to every victim of the Catholic Church’s wrongdoings. It was an un-saintly thing to do.  

And yes, to us, it very much looks as if the New Orleans Saints—a professional football franchise—has for some ungodly reason joined the Catholic Church in its pattern and practice of concealing sexual abuse. Not so? Prove it. Release the e-mails.

Here’s the thing, none of this surprises us one bit.

New Orleans is a twisted city that way.

It’s as if the Catholic Church can do no wrong—even when they are clearly wrong. It has spent decades protecting pedophiles; and now that the grits have hit the fan, its leaders are still looking and searching for advice on how to handle the release of the names of pedophiles when the only question church leaders should have been asking about the list of names is whether it should be hand-written or typed in MLA style, one-inch margins in 12-pt Times New Roman font.

And in Louisiana, we all know the Saints organization can do no wrong—even when they are clearly doing wrong. So there is more protecting and hiding and sweeping under the rug. It is sickening.

We could of course wax on about how both of these organizations are held in a regard way higher than either deserves, how the Saints organization enjoys a largess off the backs of the poor people of the state of Louisiana while its owners are made filthy rich, how leaders of the Catholic Church still seem to have no shame when they should be draped in ignominy over the young people who have been violated for decades by its so-called leaders in schools and churches.

We could. But we don’t have to.

There’s nothing to hide, they say.

Okay, then stop fighting the release of the e-mails. And just release those names while you’re at it.

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