Editorial: Call 911, not the church

Buffalo News

June 21, 2019

Catholic bishops came out last week with their plan to deal with bishops who commit or cover up sexual abuse. Their idea is that they will watch each other, and it is wholly insufficient.

It’s startling that this needs to be said, but allegations of criminal sexual abuse should be referred directly to the police — investigators who are trained to get to the bottom of such issues. It doesn’t matter if the allegations are against priests, bishops, ministers, teachers, Scout leaders or Uncle Pete: Go to the police. That the bishops either don’t get that or don’t want it can only promote the kind of arrogant insularity that led to this crisis in the first place.

The Catholic Church is full of many good men, of course, but they are, in the end, only human. Many of them, including bishops, may be willing and able to surmount the temptations that are inherent in our shared humanity — largely, in this case, self-interest. But it has been plain over the years that too many of them are neither willing nor able. That’s the problem with this non-solution.

In many cases, bishops have helped to cover up the problem of sexual abuse by priests, including the molestation of minors. In some cases, bishops, themselves have been guilty of such abuse. Some note that most recent allegations of abuse have been from assaults that occurred many years ago, arguing that the church has learned from its own terrible history.

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