Letter: Fisher should use correct term for sex abuse scandal

Buffalo News [Buffalo NY]

September 20, 2021

Kudos to The Buffalo News for publishing Michael Taheri’s Sept. 8 Another Voice article giving options to and describing how Bishop Michael W. Fisher can demonstrate “genuine remorse” over what seems to be endless revelations of priestly abuse. Western New York residents should take to heart what Taheri, a daily communicant and Eucharistic minister, has to say.

One of Taheri’s options for Fisher, a very good one, is that he offer every church asset including the diocese’ churches to the victims of abuse. But after reading of the obstinate reluctance for even basic forthright truthfulness from church leaders for so many years, this option will probably be greeted as a “non-starter” in clerical circles.

May I suggest an easier option and “starter” than Taheri’s towards the path of genuine remorse: ask the bishop to use the plain and simple word that the rest of the population uses to describe the horror of priestly abuse of minors. Obviously, that word is not “sins.” Catholics understand that not going to Mass on Sunday and using birth control are referred to as “sins.” But priests abusing children ought not be “dressed up” with that word, as Fisher did in a prepared statement after his Jan. 15 installation.

Sadly, asking Fisher the option of offering every church asset in atonement may be akin to asking for pie in the sky. A more practical and doable option is to suggest that he start demonstrating genuine remorse by no longer drawing a veil over heinous and horrific acts with the use of the word “sins.” He should offer the much needed but currently lacking remorse with the use of the plain and simple word used by the rest of society to describe the abuse of children by priests: crimes.

Dennis Stuart