Post and Courier
March 29, 2019
The Catholic Diocese of Charleston on Friday released the names of 42 priests it says are credibly accused of child sexual abuse. But it will take more than a list of names for the church to regain the trust of the faithful.
The church must take meaningful action to ensure that children entrusted to its priests are safe. And it must make sure than anyone who preys upon children answers to the judicial process, as would any other citizen in our country.
In announcing the names, the diocese took a welcome step in that direction by encouraging abuse victims to first go to law enforcement before contacting the diocese.
At least 14 other dioceses have released lists of accused priests since a Pennsylvania grand jury last July reported more than 1,000 youths were abused by over 300 priests in that state. It was a shocking revelation made worse by the fact that the church for years covered up for criminals, which allowed the abuse to continue.
At the time, Pope Francis acknowledged the church’s failure to deal with these crimes, the cover-up and its role in perpetuating the abuse.
“We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” Francis wrote in a 2,000-word letter addressed to the “People of God.”
It is important to point out that the list released Friday represents a minority of the priests who have ably and honorably served the Diocese of Charleston. But that is little solace to victims and their families who live with the terrible pain inflicted by sexual abuse.
The scope of the allegations across the country points to a deeper cultural problem that the church must address. They have damaged the integrity and authority of the church, which has struggled to come to terms with this great moral stain.
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