|Lombardi: Lack of Action in Jesuit Sexual Abuse Case Speaks Louder Than Words
By Eric Lombardi
October 30, 2007
Two months ago I told Marquette about the Rev. Donald McGuire, a Jesuit from Chicago who has molested at least three Wisconsin children, and asked the Society of Jesus why they have not done more to address McGuire's heinous crimes.
It's taken far too long, but the Jesuits have finally responded.
The Rev. Edward Schmidt, head of the Chicago province of the Society of Jesus admitted last week the Jesuits did not do enough to stop clergy sexual abuse in general and in the case of McGuire, specifically.
"I am personally outraged that anyone, particularly a Jesuit, could abuse a child," Schmidt said, "Above all, I want to say that I am sorry."
Critics present at the press conference believed Schmidt's apology was insincere.
The importance of Schmidt's sincerity pales in comparison to the importance of the Jesuits' lack of action.
The Society of Jesus simply relocated McGuire every time he was found to have molested a child instead of taking any action to prevent it, and he was only asked to stop wearing clerical garb last month.
During the press conference, Schmidt unveiled "new" child molestation prevention policies — which is a great step in the right direction. Except for the fact that other Catholic leaders have adopted similar, and even more aggressive policies, years ago.
Barbara Blaine, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests organization, said of Schmidt's comments, "The Jesuits preach safety and still let their predators roam free to abuse children."
The Rev. Kenneth Lasch, a church law expert, went so far as to tell Chicago Sun-Times reporter Susan Hogan that "religious orders have long argued against ousting predator members on the grounds that society is safer because orders can provide close supervision…the trouble is that they don't, the Chicago Jesuits and McGuire have been slapped with two lawsuits involving three boys in the past 19 years."
It seems no coincidence that Schmidt's apology came the day after SNAP issued a formal letter to Catholic Bishop Olmsted.
In the letter, SNAP urged Olmsted to "put kids' safety first and help heal those already hurt" by making announcements in every parish, utilizing websites, newspapers and parish bulletins to publish the name, photo and history of McGuire.
"While you have claimed that you are committed to protecting kids, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words...we urge you to do the right thing rather than enable and shield predator priests from justice," the letter said.
SNAP also said Olmsted had a moral and civic duty to publicly warn citizens about McGuire and to reach out to anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by McGuire and to encourage those people to reach out to the police and not church officials.
Frankly, SNAP is right. But they are wrong in saying that Olmsted solely has a moral and civic duty to warn the public about McGuire.
All Jesuits and Catholic clergy have an obligation to warn the public about McGuire and apologize to his victims, most of all here in the Midwest where McGuire molested at least three different children.
Step up Society of Jesus.
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