'Sins and Silence' Examines Offenses and Response
Week-Long Series Begins on Sunday

By Brian Cooper
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
February 28, 2006

[Note from See the Telegraph Herald's series Sins & Silence.]

It is a series we wish were not necessary. However, we believe that "Sins and Silence: Betrayal and response" will be the most important compilation of articles we have presented in many years.

As lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque hit court dockets, we made preliminary plans for a Telegraph Herald series.

When the archdiocese's $5 million settlement with victims was announced last week, we accelerated and solidified those plans.

I fully anticipate that some readers will be unhappy that we will present the series. However, our hope is that most readers will see the series as a serious and comprehensive examination of not only the problem but also efforts toward healing and resolution.

The series will report on the nature and circumstances of these offenses, and what church officials and other authorities did and did not do at the time. However, as the title of the series suggests, we also will report on what current church officials are doing to address complaints, to bring closure to some of these cases—some occurred more than a half-century ago—and to guard against similar incidents happening today. There is some "good news" to come out of this tragic situation.

The series also will examine the impact on priestly vocations and on the morale of the great majority of priests whose conduct has never been called into question.

How, if at all, have these allegations impacted the attitudes and opinions of parishioners?

What are the groups to assist victims? And what should one do if he or she wants to lodge a complaint?

Our lead journalist for "Sins and Silence" is religion reporter Mary Nevans-Pederson, backed by other members of the TH reporting staff.

This is not a series we want to do. It is a series we need to do.

Cooper's e-mail address is He posts additional comments at


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