(SC Times Editorial) In defining its core values, St. John’s Preparatory School lists “Community” as its first one — followed by these words:
“Our school is community, providing hospitality and demonstrating citizenship. Life together in this place is built on trust, love, respect and a genuine interest and concern for one another, which includes welcoming, helping, listening, caring and being present to others.”
Framed against those words, it’s hard to understand why the school, led by the Order of St. Benedict, decided now to ban a prep school alumnus from all of the order’s property for a year — even if the alumnus is highly critical of how the order has handled clergy sex abuse cases.
As reported in the Times, Patrick Marker — a member of the school’s Class of 1983 — first was required to leave the prep school’s Class of 1983 reunion on June 29 despite it inviting him to attend. About a week later, on July 8, he received a letter from the order barring him from its property for a year.
Marker was sexually abused by St. John’s clergy while in school there. He came forward about the abuse in 1989. Since then, he’s become an advocate for abuse victims as well as an outspoken critic and intense watchdog of how St. John’s handles clergy sex abuse cases. Still, having law enforcement remove him from the reunion without any evidence of behavior on site that warranted that isn’t just tacky and unprofessional, it runs completely contrary to the school’s core value of community. But what really raises public eyebrows is Marker getting a letter from St. John’s leaders a few days later that bans him from the order’s property for a year.
Remember, Marker has spent much of the past decade scrutinizing St. John’s — often in person. Why ban him now? Certainly, as a private entity, it can make such a request. But from the public’s perception — one shaped by decades of the Catholic Church staying silent about clergy abuse — the double whammy of evicting him from the reunion (to which it invited him) and then banning him for a year comes across as largely unprovoked. And it all begs the same basic question: Why take these actions now?
It would behoove St. John’s leaders to answer that question publicly and in detail. Admittedly, it might force them to address issues Marker has raised that they say lack credibility. But the reality is without an explanation, their actions against Marker lack that same credibility.
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St. Cloud Times
July 14, 2013