Sins & Silence
By Jason Berry
[See the main page of the Sins & Silence series for links to all the articles and letters to the editor.]
Your newspaper deserves credit for investigating a topic that many people would rather acknowledge in the abstract than confront directly.
The surface issue is the sexual abuse of youngsters by Catholic priests. The deeper story is the systemic way Catholic bishops have reassigned and even rewarded clerics who sexually violated youths.
Many of those bishops also impugned the victims and then, years later, hid behind attorneys or press spokesmen in trying to rationalize their sins, if not moral crimes.
Reporting of this kind—and the editorials that follow such findings—occasionally drive a few priests to protest, criticizing a newspaper as anti-Catholic. The more meaningful gauge is how few priests and nuns raise their voices. Their silence speaks volumes, for they acknowledge a moral sickness that the bishops cannot admit or confront.
I believe that your readers will take a more discriminating view of the research you have published by recognizing that there is a huge difference between the power structure of the church and the faith itself.
Any reasonable Catholic, confronted with the behavior patterns of bishops today, must draw a line between the meaning of the Gospels and the structural mendacity—institutionalized lying—that pervades the hierarchy.
St. Augustine (who was right about most things) said it best: "Justice is that virtue that gives everyone his due."
By Jason Berry
Editor's note: The author wrote "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children" (1992) and co-authored "Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II" (2004).
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.