Catholic Diocese Should Grant Request to Remove Plaque Honoring Alleged Abuser

Plain Dealer
June 9, 2011

We are saddened and appalled that Cleveland Catholic officials won't remove a plaque honoring a cleric credibly accused of child-molesting, as requested by one of his victims, Barbara Johnson (Plain Dealer, Monday).

Because the alleged predator is dead, the full truth about him probably will never be known. But this much is clear: The church hierarchy must choose between the feelings of two living women and the reputation of one dead priest. They are choosing to side with the alleged criminal over the alleged victims -- the side that top church staffers have almost always taken for decades.

Church officials will no doubt claim these two women are the "only accusers." If that's the case, it's only because church officials refuse to actively reach out to others hurt by Monsignor Nicholas Monaghan.

Of course, they can take a clear and free step toward the truth with a two-sentence notice in parish bulletins, saying, "We have an allegation that Father Monaghan molested a girl. If you have any information that might prove or disprove the allegation, we beg you to come forward right away." This costs nothing and would show that the Catholic hierarchy welcomes victims and cares about victims and about the truth. However, Cleveland church officials apparently refuse to take this simple, noncontroversial move.

A cowardly response would be for church officials to "split the difference," taking the accused priest's name off of only the building or only the plaque. But Cleveland Catholic hierarchy can't even bring itself to take this minimal step toward compassion.

Our hearts go out to Johnson and Karen Roman, who said she, too, was groped and kissed but was not "traumatized like Barbara was." We applaud them for their courage. We hope and believe their bravery will help bring them healing. We are confident that their speaking out will help and console and inspire others who suffer in shame, silence and self-blame.

We are not confident, however, that Cleveland church officials will ever live up to their promises to treat victims with compassion.


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