Seeing No Evil
Former Albany Bishop Broderick Claims Clergy Abuses Were Difficult to Prevent

Albany Times Union [Albany NY]
May 16, 2004

Bishop Edwin B. Broderick, who led the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese from 1969 to 1977, sadly fails to grasp the magnitude of the clergy abuse scandal that haunts church leaders nationwide. How else to explain his remarks to our reporter Michele Morgan Bolton the other day. "In those days, we had 550 priests," he said, recollecting his tenure in Albany. "What are you going to do, go down to every rectory past midnight and check to see if the priests are alone? Or if there are little boys around? They all take a vow of celibacy."

Of course, no one has ever suggested that any bishop conduct a bed check for the priests under his jurisdiction. By making such an argument, Bishop Broderick minimizes the issue that has come to the forefront of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States -- namely, how did bishops respond when confronted with charges that a priest had molested children?

As media reports have shown all too often, they covered up the abuse and reassigned the offending priest to another parish, thereby putting more children at risk. In some cases, they were more concerned about the church's public image than the suffering endured by victims.

Ironically, Bishop Broderick's dismissive comments came in the same week when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was accused of doing much the same thing. The accusation came not from victims of abuse but rather from the very lay panel that the bishops themselves established in 2002 to investigate reports of abuse and audit parishes nationwide to see if they were complying with the no-tolerance policies put into place back then.

But the panel, known as the National Review Board, is now complaining that the bishops have decided to put off further compliance audits at least until November. A letter from the outgoing committee head, Anne Burke, a Chicago judge, accuses the bishops of making the decision to delay further audits before conducting a Feb. 27 news conference -- but never informing the panel. As a result, reporters attending the conference never raised the issue of ongoing parish compliance reviews.

"In short, we were manipulated," the committee letter says. "We are very disheartened by this apparent decision to go back to 'business as usual'."

Disheartening is putting it mildly. If the bishops are indeed going back to their old ways, then they have deceived more than just the committee. They have deceived themselves into believing, once again, that the best way to deal with scandal is to pretend there is none.


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