July 4, 2018
By Buffalo News Editorial Board
Imagine an organization. It’s well-regarded and has a long, storied history. But it has a dark side.
In addition to its many good works, certain members committed some of the worst offenses imaginable – crimes against children. Even worse, imagine that administrators had concocted a scheme to hush it all up in an effort to protect the organization.
A question inevitably arises: What then is the culpability of the organization?
In any setting but a church, the answer would be shouted from the courthouse steps. Should it be different when it is a church?
It shouldn’t, but in Erie County, it appears it is.
It is a matter of record here – and in Catholic dioceses around the world – that a notable minority of priests sexually abused children and that those cases were kept quiet. In some instances, priests were put on leave or, unthinkably, reassigned to other parishes.
Yet neither Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. nor Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood say they can follow the obvious trail and determine what responsibility, if any, extends into the church’s hierarchy. Both claim lack of jurisdiction, though expert observers disagree.
That leaves only a couple of likely explanations: lack of resources or, in a heavily Catholic region, lack of will.
The former is simply unacceptable, given the circumstances. So is the latter, but it also sells Catholics short. People of faith don’t need to be coddled. Strength is inherent in faith.
In other places, public officials have been willing to stand up for decency and accountability.
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