I work really hard to keep my Irish temper in check, really I do. But there are some things that just make that really hard sometimes. This is one of them.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have spent every month for 9 years covering the fallout of the clergy sex-abuse crisis for St. Anthony Messenger magazine. I have covered it faithfully and honestly as a reporter, because that’s what good journalists do. Just the facts, right?
But for right now I’m done being a journalist. I’m writing this as a mom and as a Catholic. I am hurt. I am angry. No, make that furious. And I am fed up.
In an attempt to get the whole story, I made the mistake of reading the grand jury report from Philadelphia. What I read made me physically sick and made me think things for which I’m absolutely certain I have to go to Confession.
In 2003, a grand jury released a report chronicling sexual abuse by clergy. It was unable, however, to press any charges becuase of the statute of limitations. Now in 2011, in the overview section of the latest report, are the haunting words, “much has not changed.”
The things allegedly done to children, according to the report, are unfathomable. Children–you know the ones about whom Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Is this how we treat them?
Obviously, something’s amiss if nine years out these stories are still capturing the headlines. Nine years!
I’ve heard all the apologies, but as I constantly remind my kids, “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do something to try make things right. I know, I know, the Church has instituted changes like the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. For that they should be commended.
But did you know that the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, refuses to take part in the yearly national audits of how dioceses are implementing child protection programs? And we’re O.K. with that? Do you know if your diocese was found to be compliant? Have you checked? Do you care? You should.
Did you know that Cardinal Bernard Law, who stepped down in 2002 for his handling of the sex-abuse debacle in the Boston Archdiocese, simply relocated to Rome where he currently serves as archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica? That’s acceptable?
“In light of the Archdiocese’s reaction to the last grand jury report, we expect that some may accuse us of anti-Catholic bias for speaking of these painful matters. We are not church-haters. Many of us are church-goers. We did not come looking for “scandal,” but we cannot close our eyes to the powerful evidence we heard. We call the church to task, to fix what needs fixing.”
Featured image: CNS photo/Matthew Gambino, Catholic Standard & Times