Diocese Can Learn Value of Disclosure

Quad-City Times

July 27, 2008

With every detail, the picture of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church gets clearer and clearer.

Four priests — James Janssen, William Wiebler, Francis Bass and Thomas Feeney — account for nearly 100 of the 150 abuse claims reported by the diocese.

The disclosure was provided by the Davenport Diocese following known settlements that total $47 million.

This startling perspective affirms that these damaging crimes represent the conduct of comparatively few priests.

It also suggests that immediate disclosure and action would have prevented most of this abuse. Quick action after the first allegation might have resulted in a flurry of bad publicity. But that would quickly disappear into newspaper archives.

Years later, the Davenport diocese wouldn’t be facing a

$47 million bill. Most importantly, the diocese’s children might have been spared the pain and humiliation of being a victim of their faith’s leaders.

The diocese can’t undo the past. But it can learn from this lesson of disclosure. More is better.

Sexual abuse is a crime to be handled by criminal investigators. Pretending it is something else is far costlier than bad press.


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