Opinion: Diocesan sex abuse panel committed to fairness, transparency


November 15, 2020

By Daniel A. Ford

I am the Chair of the Bishop’s Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield. Last month I wrote an op-ed explaining that the Task Force was conducting an online survey designed to elicit ideas from the faithful, both laity and clergy, to inform us in our work, and encouraging people to participate. The response was very strong, and I wish to thank profusely those individuals who took the time to respond. I want to assure everyone who responded that all answers and comments, some of which were extremely thoughtful and insightful, have been read and studied. I know that they will be seriously considered and I expect that many of them will be incorporated into our final report.

There is one misconception that I want to clear up. Some people seem to think that the mission of the Task Force is to investigate claims of sexual misconduct within the Diocese. It is not. Our charge is to identify areas in which the Diocese’s response to those claims could be improved and to recommend significant and meaningful changes in Diocesan policies and procedures designed to promote healing and reconciliation. To that end, we are in the process of engaging the services of an outside professional organization which will organize focus groups in order to obtain the views and perspectives of survivors of clergy sexual abuse in a safe and trauma-informed way. We consider their opinions to be essential if we are to provide sensible and workable recommendations to the Bishop which are responsive to the needs of these most important stakeholders.

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