The News-Item’s cheers and jeers for the past week of news:
• Cheers to the reversal of course by Diocese of Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer, who has now asked the Vatican to defrock a priest suffering from dementia who was accused of sexually abusing children and was named in the state’s grand jury report on priest abuse. According to the York Daily Record, Gainer asked the pope in September to remove 87-year-old Joseph Pease from the priesthood. Gainer had written the Vatican in 2014 saying Pease could not mount a defense as part of the church’s disciplinary process because of his mental state, and asked for a more compassionate punishment. A diocese spokesman said the request for defrocking was made after more information about Pease came to light in the report. Pease’s local assignments included those in Atlas and Mount Carmel.
• Jeers to the ignorant jokester who called in a bomb threat that disrupted one of several commencement exercises Saturday at Bloomsburg University. It forced a change of venue mid-program for the College of Education and College of Liberal Arts ceremony. While no bomb was found, the disruption was significant, and the responsible party we trust may soon find out how serious such “pranks” are, especially in an era of heightened concerns about “soft-target” security.
• Cheers to the volunteers and business sponsors responsible for adding holiday lights and Christmas trees along Market and Lincoln streets in Shamokin. With new Christmas lights having been installed on poles a few years back on Independence Street, thanks to Citizens for a Better Community and other civic-minded people, and the giant wooden “Christmas cards” already in the Market Street park plots thanks to the Northumberland County Council for the Arts, the new lights and trees further extend holiday cheer throughout the city. Any community scrooges who see nothing but despair for their hometown might benefit from a drive or walk around town, especially this time of year.
• Cheers, on a related note, to Shamokin First Lady Denise Brown’s new holiday home decorating contest and her distribution of Santa ornaments to those with homes that exhibit holiday spirit. The effort by the mayor’s wife will surely provide some inspiration to city homeowners, not simply in seeking a prize, but in contributing to community pride.
• Jeers, of course, to anyone peddling illegal drugs, but particularly to the Shamokin man accused last week of selling pure fentanyl in two controlled buys back in October. Fentanyl is a manmade opioid that is similar to morphine; however, the National Institute on Drug Abuse warns it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Not only is it dangerous to those who use and sell it, fentanyl puts police and emergency responders at risk for potential contact. We trust that the punishment for the crime, if this man is convicted, will match the serious potential of the drug he was trying to sell.
• Cheers to the owners of Flo’s, a coffee and donut shop that opened earlier this year in Mount Carmel, for offering employment to those who would otherwise face employment challenges. Many businesspeople would find that approach risky, but Jason and Caryn Parker are to be commended for recognizing that some folks can succeed if given a second chance.