San Jose bishop: ‘Deeds, not words’ needed in sex abuse claims
By Harvey Barkin
San Jose Mercury News
September 30, 2018
|Bishop Patrick McGrath, seen here outside of San Jose’s Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, is leading listening sessions to hear public input on allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.|
Photo by Harvey Barkin
San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath met with the outrage and clamor for immediate accountability of the clergy accused of sexual abuses at the first of three scheduled listening sessions at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Palo Alto Sept. 29.
McGrath said the involved clergy “say ‘sorry’ but it’s not enough. Deeds, not words are what we need. This is the beginning of the process.”
Locally, the process of holding abusive priests accountable arguably began in 2002, when the Diocese of San Jose implemented the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People after U.S. bishops approved it. The charter was updated in 2005, 2011 and this year. Also, in 2002 the diocese set up its own Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. In the ensuing years, training, background checks and fingerprinting became necessary for seminarians, employees and even volunteers who work for the diocese. All diocesan personnel are mandated to immediately notify civil authorities of any suspected sexual abuse.
This month, McGrath and his advisers met with Edward Panelli, independent diocesan review board chairman and retired associate justice of the California Supreme Court, to formulate measures addressing the issue of clergy sexual abuses.
The result was a three-pronged plan that includes the Sept. 22 listening session, followed by two more scheduled for Oct. 2 at Most Holy Trinity Church and Oct. 17 at Santa Teresa Church, both in San Jose, to get comments and questions from the Catholic community who were victimized directly or who had family members victimized. These sessions are slated to be followed by the release by mid-October of a list of names and status of every priest found to be credibly accused of abusing minors within the diocese, and an independent review of all the diocese records pertaining to the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults committed by any cleric appointed by the diocesan bishop. The review will be headed by former FBI executive assistant director Dr. Kathleen McChesney and her firm, Kinsale Management Consulting.
All priests’ files dating back to 1981 could be examined. This was the year that San Jose became an independent diocese after being part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
At a packed hall at the first listening session, the anger at being humiliated, and frustration at being ignored for years poured out while McGrath stood in front of the microphone for two hours and 10 minutes to respond to 12 victims and acquaintances of victims.
Some opined that State Attorney General Xavier Becerra or Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen should be involved in the diocese’s investigation to assure transparency.
McGrath said that the diocese would be meeting with the state attorney and that the attorney general would be making a decision.
Still others said McGrath should use his influence to effect changes in the Catholic church, specifically at the meeting called by Pope Francis for the 114 conferences of bishops in Rome next February.
Others thought men in their prime, promising to be celibate, cloistered in the seminary is a time bomb and one that could be defused by allowing more women to decide policy and to serve in the Catholic church.
McGrath replied, “The pope is looking into women as deacons, but I will probably not see women in church in my lifetime. I don’t have a problem with it. My hope will be to go further with this.”