VOTF Calls Op-ed by Judge Michael Merz Harmful


December 18, 2008

December 12, 2008 – Boston –Voice of the Faithful disputes the conclusions reported recently in a Boston Globe Op Ed article by Judge Michael Merz, who chairs the National Review Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic bishops complicit in the clergy sex abuse scandal do indeed need to resign or be replaced. Unlike Judge Merz, we at VOTF do not assume that those responsible for coverups and scandal are in any way qualified to lead the cleanup.

Judge Merz’s remarks are especially troubling in light of the requirements for his Review Board to monitor compliance of the bishops with the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Self-reporting by diocesan officials is not the same as a verifiable assessment, and it is troubling to learn that the NRB regards such unverified results as evidence of “forceful” response by the bishops or of their commitment to the programs. True commitment should include verifiable participation and independently audited results in all dioceses and penalties for those bishops who do not comply.

We also know from our experiences at the parish and diocesan level that child-safety training, once completed, is often not repeated and seldom emphasized. Again, this hit-and-miss approach to child protection does not speak of a “forceful” response despite Judge Merz’s assurances.

Finally, we do not agree with Judge Merz that the Church is demonstrating an “unrelenting … quest to ensure that all children” are safe when the President of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, was forced this year to acknowledge serious failures in his own diocese to immediately remove priests credibly accused of molesting children.

Many of our members work tirelessly to address the issue of child safety and protection of young people within the church. We wish the bishops could do the same. They do not.

We are deeply disappointed by the words of Judge Merz. We hope he remembers that crisis is not over and the work is not done.


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