June 21, 2019
I am an 84-year-old Jesuit priest writing in response to “Skeptics: Bishops’ abuse steps fall short” (Reading Eagle, June 14).
Reading is in the Catholic Diocese of Allentown. Our diocese has been directed to report immediately to civil authorities incidents of sexual abuse of minors that have been reported to any of us. This mandate would include incidents involving priests, deacons or bishops. Officials of any rank who do not comply are breaking the law and should be reported. There is no disparity between the directives given to all people in the diocese by diocesan regulations and the directives of civil law. So what’s the gripe?
Regarding the role of laypersons in decisions regarding just payouts to people who have been abused, the diocese has taken steps to involve appointed lay persons to such arbitration. In the same edition of the Eagle, “Payments to clergy abuse survivors in Philly and Scranton top $20 million” points out that those two dioceses, which have paid a total of $20 million to victims, have used the services of laypersons.
SNAP, the organization advocating for the rights of people abused by clergy, feels that more should be done to prevent cover-ups by clergy and bishops. Such cover-ups are now clearly violations of the law. What more should be expected from the church than that it direct all of its personnel to comply with the state’s law and report to civil authorities those who do not, as it has done?
The Rev. Lucien F. Longtin
Lower Heidelberg Township
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