Priest Scandals and Cover Up: Will It Ever End?

Phil Lawler over at Catholic Culture has a fine essay pointing out the obvious but uncomfortable knowledge of Catholics today regarding the sexual scandals that plague our Faith:

Among the news offerings of the past weekend, three stories remind us that the ugly era of the clerical sex-abuse scandal is not nearly over.

First up – the ghastly oversight and ignorance in the Philadelphia archdiocese, (emphasis CP):

The New York Times shines the spotlight on the Philadelphia archdiocese, where a grand jury has charged that Church leaders have allowed priests to remain in ministry despite solid evidence of abuse. . .

The policies were never the problem.  The problem was—and, alas, apparently still is—the people enforcing the policies.

Then back across the continent to the excellent new leader in Los Angeles and what he’s now facing, Archbishop Jose Gomez:

Next, from the Los Angeles archdiocese, comes an AP report that “dozens of former and current priests and religious brothers accused of childhood sexual abuse…now live unmonitored by civil authorities.” Here we have a common-sense reminder that if a priest is a threat to children, removing him from active ministry does not necessary remove the threat.”

But as Mr. Lawler points out, it isn’t always that simple – many priests are accused who are not guilty and the advocacy victims groups want all names to be released irregardless of any truth of crime.  As one could certainly understand, why or who could make this stuff up – unfortunately it does happen.

The lawyer for the Church in Los Angeles makes the point.  The archdiocese believes, however, that many of the priests whose addresses appear on the list were wrongfully accused. The archdiocese included those clergy in the $660 million payout without admitting wrongdoing, simply to settle the claims . . .

In our litigious society, with guys yelling at you in commercials to call if anyone offends or harms you in any way, this concern is plainly clear-cut.  In his third case, Mr. Lawler uses a horrific crime from Ireland:

From Italy, via reporters in Ireland, . . . A priest was sentenced to a 15-year prison term for molesting children. His bishop is under scrutiny, as he should be, for failing to curb his misconduct. A victims-advocacy group is charging that the Vatican, too, bears responsibility. But it turns out that when the victims brought the priest’s tendencies to the attention of Vatican officials, they were encouraged to contact civil law-enforcement officials. . .

“Thus we have one more reminder of yet another unavoidable fact about the sex-abuse scandal. Victims’ advocates say that the Church should report credible accusations promptly to the attention of civil prosecutors. But even when accusations are promptly reported, there is no guarantee that police will take immediate action.”

Beating up on these bishops tends to be a modus operandi for many today; often with good reason.  But as has been the case repeatedly, law enforcement won’t take action due to lack of evidence, lack of time and resources, statute of limitations, or apathy.

We urge constant prayer: for the victims, for their attackers, for the leaders in both ecclesiastical and law enforcement, and for the Church.  It will take time and it may never end completely, but the victims must be put first; always.

UPDATE: From the inestimable Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia comes this note on the Philadelphia abuse cases:

Freshly-returned from his Vatican mission to Ireland — where, in Pope Benedict’s name, he led the Dublin church’s extraordinary public repentance (above) for the country’s sex-abuse scandals — Cardinal Séan O’Malley OFM Cap. of Boston became the highest-ranking churchman to comment on the crisis’ new eruption in Philadelphia at an Ash Wednesday presser:

‘O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, said that whenever the Catholic Church mishandles abuse cases or “tries to cover up . . . it is just so disappointing to all of us, to the whole church.’’…

‘The cardinal has spent most of his nearly eight-year tenure in Boston helping stabilize the archdiocese in the aftermath of the abuse crisis that exploded here in 2002. Yesterday, he grew emotional when pressed about whether he thought the Philadelphia news might reopen wounds here at an inopportune time….

“Of course it is worrisome,’’ O’Malley said. “On the other hand, I believe that Jesus Christ’’ — he paused a long moment to collect himself — “has the answers for the problems of our life. And we are a church to be able to communicate that message [sic].’’

Here is the rest . . .

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