Daily's Reckoning

New York Post [New York]
Downloaded August 2, 2003

August 2, 2003 -- The Vatican's announcement yesterday that Pope John Paul II has accepted the resignation of Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily refreshed the pain that's afflicted American Catholicism for the past few years.

Daily's departure is regrettable.

But it's a necessary step - and just one of several that still need to be taken.

While Daily has done a fine job in serving his Brooklyn flock for 13 years, his questionable judgment before his arrival in New York drew a cloud over what should be his golden years.

Daily had reached the nominal retirement age for bishops, having turned 75 a year ago; officially, that was why the pope accepted his resignation.

But Daily has been roundly criticized for his behavior as an officer in the Boston archdiocese, where he served from 1976 to 1984, including briefly as vicar for administration under then-Cardinal Bernard Law.

Last month, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly released a report examining charges of sexual abuse at the Boston church during Law's tenure.

In the report, Daily was blamed for not thoroughly investigating multiple charges of child abuse by priests. Daily also allegedly transferred accused priests without ensuring proper supervision or notifying the new parishes.

The Reilly report charges that Daily "apparently did not believe that a priest who engaged in such misconduct was apt to engage in such conduct in the future."

Whether one calls his judgment naive or something even less kind, the fact remains that as a result of Daily's apparent actions (or, more accurately, inactions), hundreds of children may have unnecessarily suffered at the hands of abusive priests.

In the days to come, Daily will have to respond to a subpoena and answer questions about his handling of complaints against priests.

It is sad, particularly for Brooklyn parishioners, that it has come to this.

It's quite likely that Daily meant well, even if he was terribly misguided. It is not exactly enjoyable to watch septuagenarian men being forced to testify on decisions they made decades ago.

But the church has little choice but to endure such scenes as it works to cleanse itself of its sex-abuse taint and regain the trust of its constituents and the broader public.

As painful as it may be for Daily and other clerics to be called to account, it's surely been no less painful for the kids who've lived for years with the horrifying knowledge of the abuse they suffered at the hands of wayward priests.

Those who allowed such heinous behavior to occur must be held to account - regardless of their position or age.


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