The U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops voted unanimously this week at a meetingin Baltimore to support research into why priests molest children.Bishops approved spending $335,000 of parishioners’ donations toexplore the “causes and context” of clergy abuse.
“Byapproving the proposal, bishops are saying we are serious about this;we haven’t retreated from our original position, and we’ll stay on thisuntil we can find the causes that prevent these terrible things fromhappening,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus ofWashington.
How ridiculous. First and foremost, these “terriblethings” happen to be felonies. Are the bishops members of Congress ormen of the cloth? The need to understand the situations in which clergyabuse children speaks to a need to justify their crimes and those whoaided, abetted and covered up, not root out the criminals.
Ifthe bishops really cared about Catholics, the second thing they shoulddo to priests caught abusing children is kick them out of the church.The first thing they should do is call police.
They should turncriminal priests over to secular authorities instead of abusing thecloak of confidentiality. These crimes are not mere sins that can beabsolved by confession. And church authorities learn of the crimesoutside the confessional process anyway.
Parishioners do not needto spend more money finding “causes.” Their leaders have wasted enoughover the years moving criminals from parish to parish to commit morecrimes while paying legal fees and victim lawsuit settlements.
Accordingto an earlier study from John Jay College of Criminal Justice — adivision of the City University of New York and the same institutionthat will conduct the new study — Catholic parishioners and theinsurance companies for the dioceses paid nearly $573 million in legalfees, compensation for victims and treatment for both victims andpriests from 1950-2002. The church itself has estimated total cost mayeventually exceed $1 billion.
It’s hard to understand how thisstudy will help anyone but the church elite. The results will beconfidential, meaning that those priests who admit to wrongdoing willbe shielded from both their parishioners and legal action. Besides, theearlier John Jay study found that nearly 5,000 priests and deaconsabused more than 12,500 minors since 1950. It also provided detaileddescriptions on the age and behavioral problems of abusers. What moredoes the church need to know?
If there is one thing Catholicsshould have learned by now, it is to go straight to police with anysexual abuse charges if they want justice.
The bishops’pronouncements this week about the “disordered” sexuality of gays andcriticism of United States foreign policy hold no moral authority inlight of their tolerance for criminal activity among their ranks.
Toregain it they must state publicly their plans to cleanse from thechurch all molesters and those who shielded them over the years.
Whatbetter time than now. The recent reopening of the Basilica of theAssumption — the nation’s first Roman Catholic cathedral —on it’s 200thanniversary gives them a prime opportunity to show that they care forboth the church’s structures and the faithful who fill the pews.
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