Cooperation with Evil in the Act of Silence

The Seattle Times [United States]
Downloaded March 2, 2004

American Catholic bishops need to read, mark and inwardly digest the findings in two stunning reports on the sexual-abuse crisis in their church. They can start the healing process by identifying priests and former priests responsible for the abuse.

This step is absolutely necessary for rebuilding the trust and faith destroyed by the predatory acts of 4,392 abusive priests and the church leaders who too often harbored them.

"I can assure you, known offenders are not in the ministry," Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last week.

So where are they? Some may be deceased, but others including 700 priests removed from the ministry since January 2002 may have moved on to jobs and positions that put more children at risk.

Knowingly allowing evil conduct to continue is cooperation with evil, as one report notes.

Church leaders do not deserve and have not earned the benefit of the doubt. They have forfeited any claim to authority over what is best for the injured and betrayed.

Two complementary reports took different paths. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice reproduced a rigorous statistical analysis of the sordid events between 1950 and 2002. It found about 4 percent of the clergy responsible for assaults on 10,667 children mostly boys between ages 11 and 14, and mostly repeated contacts that lasted two years in 30 percent of the cases. Some of the abuse lasted five to nine years.

The study puts a qualified and conservative estimate of the financial costs at $542 million in settlements, treatment expense and legal fees.

A second report moved beyond the quantification of sex acts, abused and abuser demographics and predatory techniques to wonder how it all happened.

The leadership of the church utterly failed its vocation and those it was to serve as moral guide.

The National Review Board wants consequences resignations and removal for bishops, leaders of religious orders and seminary administrators who behaved negligently and criminally.

Church leadership repeatedly put institutional needs ahead of local parishioners, failed to use canonical authority and sided with priests over victims. The panel stocked with legal expertise said bishops in legal proceedings took "an adversarial stance not worthy of the church."

Identify those abusing priests. Silence and misplaced loyalty put more children at risk.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.