Church Trial Appropriate for Wysocki
Canonical Hearing Will Give Accused Priest His Day in Court

Port Huron Times Herald [Michigan]
Downloaded January 17, 2004

It's a distinction the Rev. James Wysocki probably isn't at all honored to receive, but the Vatican's decision to try the priest is an important milestone and a welcome one.

Accused of sexually abusing a minor during the early years of his priesthood, Wysocki appealed the Detroit Archdiocese's decision to suspend him from his duties at Marine City's Holy Cross Catholic Church. This month, Vatican officials supported the Archdiocese. A canonical trial, Detroit's first in 20 years, will be convened at a date yet to be determined.

It's only right that Wysocki face the allegations. The greater issues, though is the willingness of church officials to address the matter so seriously.

Because the allegations exceed the state's statute of limitations, the canonical trial offers the best hope for determining Wysocki's guilt or innocence. That is vital to the parishioners of Holy Cross and to the Catholic Church as a whole.

Allegations of priest abuse threw the church into an international scandal. The substance and number of the charges were shocking. Worse, however, was the public's perception that church officials were sometimes less than accountable for the actions of errant priests.

Wysocki's trial should send an important message. It should make it clear that the church is now determined to take steps to fight sexual abuse openly. That's a signal to Catholics and the general public.

The hope, of course, is Wysocki is innocent of the charges. The support he enjoys from his parishioners and his willingness to submit himself to a trial demonstrate that there are many who believe he is wrongly accused.

The truth is the church's credibility also is on trial. Public doubts about the willingness of its leaders to confront the priest-abuse scandal should be quieted by Wysocki's trial.

In that respect, his day in canonical court ought to come sooner rather than later.


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