Editorial: Finally, churches renounce sexual abuse by their leaders

The Columbus Dispatch

June 18, 2019

Confession being good for the soul, it is a step in the right direction that both the Southern Baptist Convention and U.S. Catholic bishops met last week to deal with allegations of sex abuse within their ranks.

Both churches have announced measures to deal more effectively with abuse complaints going forward.

The Dispatch hopes their efforts help to put all clergy — as well as others in positions of trust with vulnerable populations — on notice that preying on innocent victims no longer will be tolerated or shielded from public view.

For too long, the repeated pattern in the Catholic Church — and, unfortunately, in other institutions — has been to put the well-being of the institution ahead of the well-being of abuse victims.

But both victims and the institutions have been further harmed by misplaced loyalties.

Another oft-repeated pattern is for the full accounting of misdeeds to be revealed by those outside the institutions and then followed by an inadequate institutional response.

In a number of high-profile cases across the country, it has been local newspapers that have brought into daylight widespread cases of abuse allegations being ignored or downplayed, sometimes leaving perpetrators free to harm others. …

… Sadly, Columbus has not been immune from allegations of clergy abuse, and The Dispatch has helped to bring more of the picture into public view. Reporter Danae King analyzed assignment records of 40 priests that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus says were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors in cases dating from 1992 and earlier.

The analysis showed that those priests had a high rate of reassignments and had served in more than two-thirds of the diocese’s 105 parishes. While Catholic priests generally are known to serve a parish about six years at a time, the 40 credibly accused priests averaged nine assignments in 32 years — spending about half the usual time in one place.

The Dispatch created a searchable online database noting where the credibly accused priests served and when, at dispatch.com/priestdatabase as part of ongoing coverage online at dispatch.com/catholicsecrecy.

We hope no new allegations arise as churches stand up to sexual abuse by their leaders.

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