Unified, Churchwide Standard to Make Credible Abuse Claims Public a Must for Catholic Church
By Ramon Antonio Vargas
September 20, 2018
In the wake of a sexual abuse scandal thatís rocked the Catholic Church around the world, including horrifying incidents in Louisiana, church leaders have promised to champion reforms to help prevent such abuses in the future.
One obvious change for the better would be a unified, churchwide standard for making credible claims of abuse public. As an Advocate story on court settlements involving sexual abuse incidents at Jesuit High in New Orleans makes clear, confusing lines of authority within the church bureaucracy havenít served the cause of transparency and justice.
The abuse cases from Jesuitís campus dating back to at least the 1970s are a case study in evil. One victim, Randy Windmann, was granted a $450,000 settlement after he reported repeated sexual assaults by then-campus janitor Peter Modica starting in the 1970s. Windmann said he was also abused by the Rev. Neil Carr, then a Jesuit priest and teacher.
An especially troubling revelation from such abuse cases is that reporting standards among various church institutions can differ. Jesuitís guidelines for reporting such cases seems to differ from that of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Jesuitís rules donít appear to require that parents and other members of the Catholic community be informed when such abuse allegations develop. Itís unclear which set of standards are supposed to prevail ó those of the Jesuit order, or those of the diocese.
That laxness and lack of clarity send the wrong message to those who worry about the prospect of future abuse. The church has a moral obligation to do better.