Bishop Handled Abuse Case Well

Times [Crown Point IN]
Downloaded December 23, 2003

Our opinion: Since this case came to light, it has been handled quickly, effectively and compassionately.

The priest sex abuse scandals that have reverberated around the nation hit home last weekend.

Monsignor Don Grass has been removed from his duties at St. Mary Catholic Church in Crown Point after his admission of having abused a child in the late 1960s at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary.

Bishop Dale Melczek dealt with this matter in a manner that exemplified how such cases should be handled.

After an investigation of the allegations, the bishop late last week removed Grass from his parish responsibilities.

Melczek visited all five of the Crown Point church's weekend Masses and held a question-and-answer session Sunday afternoon at the church.

The incident was so long ago that no criminal charges can be filed, but the church can and must administer its own punishment.

Grass, who has been seriously ill, immediately lost his residence at the parish, although he was allowed to keep his insurance coverage.

Consistent with requirements of the Roman Catholic Church, the Gary Diocese has a specific policy regarding allegations of sexual abuse. The new policy was developed following decades in which accusations of abuse by the clergy were ignored or hidden. In some cases, abusers were transferred to other parishes, which of course were never advised of the history of allegations.

The Gary Diocese has had a zero tolerance policy toward sexual misconduct within the church. Grass is the first local priest to be removed from parish work under its terms.

Soon, the Gary Diocese will join others in releasing the results of a sexual misconduct audit, detailing the extent of the problem over the past several decades and how much it has cost the church and its insurer. Shedding light on this problem will help restore credibility to the church administration.

Abuse of children is both a crime and a tragedy -- particularly when the abuse is by a person in a position of trust. Since this case came to light, the Gary Diocese has dealt with it effectively and compassionately


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