A Priest 'Hero' on Sex Abuse?

By Bryan Cones
U.S. Catholic
January 25, 2011

A letter to the editor that will appear in the March issue of USC laments the fact that there have been no heroes in the sex abuse crisis, specifically referring to the lack of priestly whistleblowers who knew about their abusive brothers but did nothing about it.

Whether that writer's evaluation is true or not, I'd like to salute a different sort of hero, Father James Connell of Milwaukee, who, although he is the archdiocese's vice-chancellor, joined SNAP in demanding that the Milwaukee archdiocese fully disclose informaton about priests with credible accusations of sex abuse against them. He even joined them at a press conference, according to the Associated Press. The archdiocese is currently seeking bankruptcy protection due to the financial pressure of sex abuse claims.

Connell's actions can't undo the damage already inflicted by abusers, but his stand is a sign that, slowly but surely, awareness of clerical sex abuse and the damage it causes is changing the church. As calls for transparency from priests themselves become more and more common, perhaps bishops, too, might start to see the value of more open disclosure. And then maybe we would be another step toward healing in this terrible scandal.

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