Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hand OF God - Comments

The Valley Morning Star
Friday, January 19, 2007

Can We Trust The Church To Operate Our Public TV Station In The Valley?

To The Editor:

Monsignor Pedro Briseño, pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Harlingen and general manager of KMBH-TV, the public television station in the Valley, ordered that a program scheduled for broadcast on Tuesday not be shown until he "could review it for content."

Was this program one that was sexually salacious? Was it excessively violent? Was it laced with profanity? No, the program was "The Hand of God," a film by Joe Cultrera that "tells the very personal story of how the (clergy sex abuse) crisis affected his own family in Salem, Mass. It is the intimate story of how his brother, Paul, was molested in the 1960s by the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who also reportedly abused nearly 100 other children" (from the "Frontline" Web site).

This action of Monsignor Briseño is censorship at the hands of a person entrusted with the public airwaves. How is it that the monsignor's judgment of the appropriateness of this program for viewers in the Rio Grande Valley is something we should be subjected to?

PBS' "Frontline" is not "Cinemax After Dark" or HBO's "Real Sex," it is serious journalism that adults around this country have access to, and we in the Valley should be able to view and judge for ourselves.

The monsignor's censorship just reinforces the public perception that the Catholic Church is still interested in covering up the clergy sex abuse scandal. The Diocese of Brownsville continues to refuse to release the names of the priests who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of children in the Valley, and this latest action to suppress a television program about the issue seems, on the surface, to fall into this same pattern of "sacred silence."

KMBH is a public trust and this action by an official of the diocese, which owns the station, raises the question whether such a public trust should be in the hands of the church at all, if there is going to be this sort of conflict of interest. Those who are substantial contributors, the Prime Circle, might want to reconsider whether their support is appropriate.

Gerald Brazier
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley


Anonymous said...

Well said. This issue must be addressed by national headquarters and local contributors alike. There are too many unanswered questions, literally.

Conflicting responses from the KMBH staff, evasive posturing and victim mentality on the part of Monsignor Briseno, all speak of a corporate culture that is predicated on unflinching authority and fed by fear. What a contrast to today's Gospel reading about the Lord Jesus being annointed to set captives free and proclaim a time of favor for God's people.

Monsignor Briseno, "el que nada debe, nada teme."

Church Employee Who's Seen It All

Kanickers said...

For housekeeping reasons, the following were transferred from previous posts:

Guy Hallman said...
I tuned in KMBH at 8 PM tonight (Jan. 16) fully expecting to see the advertised “Hand of God” a documentary about sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. I was surprised instead to see an old program about the Taliban! I re-checked the KMBH web site and “Hand of God” was still listed. What gives, I thought?

So I called the station and was informed that the General Manager, Fr. Pedro Briseño, decided to record it and look at it first to see if it was appropriate for our viewing! No wonder he was giving a program about the Taliban! He is one!

I guess “Hand of God” is too close for comfort given that bishop Peña has yet to come clean about sexual abuse by clergy in this diocese. I am never giving another dime to KMBH.
1/16/2007 9:01 PM

Anonymous said...
I did the same, however didn't call the station. Who gives this guy the right to decide what is or is not appropriate for us to watch? I don't like the smell of this!
1/16/2007 11:30 PM

Anonymous said...
Okay, I have read both sides' versions of the events in question. In the interest of promoting journalism and avoiding censureship, KMBH should air the show in its entirety, and soon. Why should the local affiliate be the only one in the country that didn't air this episode of Frontline? Local viewers are just as entitled as the rest of the country. Sour grapes about less than perfect networking relationships with the local media are immature given the poor track record the diocesan spokeswoman has in dealing with the media. You reap what you sow, Monsignor.

Realistically, knowing that the local clergy will break before they bend, this cannot be expected to happen and if you want to see the episode you will have to purchase it on dvd or vhs. Since the good Monsignor, on the orders of his superior, has been kind enough to care about my televiewing choices, I would like to reciprocate. I will be happy to provide him and the clergy in general with choices on where to shop for groceries, where to eat out, where to buy their vehicles, where to vacation, etc., in the interest of their financial wellbeing. I am willing to sacrifice my time to screen or preview those expensive restaurants, to test drive those flashy cars and to visit their exotic vacation spots beforehand. Oh, right, I forgot for a moment. These are non issues for them because we foot the bill on all counts!!!

Sign me,
Church Employee Who's Seen It All
1/20/2007 9:36 AM

Anonymous said...
Isn’t this the same Msgr. Pedro Briseño that authored a letter during our staff-firing incident at Holy Spirit that proclaimed our fired professional staff to be "a bunch of dogs”?
Are these the traits of a man that we want to entrust in the position of making decisions on the educational and moral value of programming aired on our Public Broadcasting Station? I think not!
1/20/2007 10:43 AM

DMC said...
Kind of ironic how every effort by our bishops to "cover up" the sexual abuse of our children by clergy within the Catholic Church has resulted in even greater media exposure. Great work, Bishop Peña!
Maybe it's time for full disclosure.
DMC, Alamo
1/20/2007 11:05 AM

Anonymous said...
How interesting, instead of an apology for what they did, they quickly try to shift the blame to others... the news reporter, Frontline, etc. They still don't get it, do they?
1/20/2007 1:39 PM

Guy Hallman said...
Msgr. Briseno:
I read your diatribe against the media in the Monitor for reporting your shocking behavior in not showing "Hand of God", but when are you going to answer the
questions Mr. Smith presented you? You skirted around them in this attempt. Viewers are waiting to hear the truth from you.
Guy Hallman
McAllen TX
1/20/2007 1:44 PM