The blogosphere has been been active the past couple days over the TSA’s hiring of a former Catholic priest, Thomas Harkins, who was removed from ministry due to sex abuse allegations. Harkins now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport, according to a recent report from CBS Philly.
Harkins was a Catholic priest until 2002 in the Diocese of Camden, where he was eventually defrocked due to two findings of child molestation. A third woman has since begun another lawsuit. One has to wonder if this would have received more media coverage nationally if it had been boys Harkins had molested. The media narrative a decade ago made it seem like a Roman collar was the equivalent of a NAMBLA membership card.
While it should be noted Harkins’ title is “Transportation Security Manager – Baggage,” meaning he deals mainly with luggage instead of passengers, having someone with his baggage in a position of authority should be one of concern. As Karen Polesir of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) pointed out, “Sure, that’s his title. That doesn’t mean that’s where he stays, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fill other roles when necessary.”
As a Catholic who loves my Church, I grow angry with those of both extremes who either want to sweep the sex abuse scandal under the rug, and those who want to muzzle the Church “until it has dealt with the sex abuse issue.” Meanwhile, most of the latter are those who want the Church silenced anyway, so there will always be some vague, ever changing standard that will never be fulfilled in their eyes. The Church has taken a great number of precautions to prevent this scandal from happening again. I have personally met survivors who have spoken approvingly of some of these new measures. Even before the scandal came to light, some actions, albeit inadequate, were attempted, such as trying to keep suspected priests out of ministries involving children and focusing on other ministries. That obviously, sadly, did not work. If that approach failed with the Church, who really believes it will work any better with government?
One should remember the Church is more than those in the collar or the habit. The laity is the Church, too. And the Church has a duty, regardless of human error within, to speak out on issues that affect the good of humanity. That said, this layperson would not be able to sleep at night knowing our federal government thought it was doing an adequate job protecting travelers from those with a spotty track record. If these are the people the TSA hires to keep airline passengers “secure,” then this is further proof we need state, local, and possibly even personal nullification of the TSA’s invasive procedures more than ever.
Please contact your state legislators to support state level TSA nullification efforts.
If your state is not on the list, contact your state legislators to introduce model legislation.