America The Jesuit Review
September 25, 2018
By John Carr
For me, clerical sexual abuse is personal, professional and institutional. It has haunted my service of the church for more than five decades, involving the abuse of people, power and trust and a clerical culture that enabled it and covered it up. My experiences have taught me several lessons that I believe will be helpful as the church moves forward.
1. There are not enough parents in the room when decisions are made.
In the 1980s, I served Cardinal James Hickey in Washington, D.C. I was summoned to his home where he explained that a senior cleric was accused of abusing young people, and a civil attorney and canon lawyer reported that this abuse likely took place. The bishops and monsignors in the room knew this priest and insisted this was not possible, a terrible misunderstanding or an unfair attack. I did not know the priest and urged his immediate removal. Archbishop Hickey removed him.
These members of the clergy looked at these events through the eyes of a brother priest. Through the eyes of a father, this was the worst thing that could happen short of the death of a child. It undermines trust and faith, priesthood and Eucharist, sexuality and family. There need to be more parents in the room.
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