18 December, 2009

I've been challenged to make a statement about how the church responds to the various sex abuse scandals

One of the things that I do each day in my spare time between services and appointments is participate in various comment threads of major Canadian news websites such as the National Post.

Today I was challenged to make a definitive statement about how the various sex abuse scandals (pedophilia and sexual abuse of religious sisters) should be handled by a poster who goes by the handle of Outlaw_ca. He put the challenge as follows:

In case valid cases how many priests and bishops were fired and were they referred to authorities for prosecution. I think your and church mind set is protection of the Church, I am more concerned about the fair treatment of victims. Why has this been hidden from you for all these years. Now that you know what do you plan to do? Would you ask the Vatican to provide the answers and keep us posted on your blog?



Here is the response I offered to him in those same National Post threads.

O/C: You are absolutely correct. If priests or bishops are positively identified as been responsible for these abuses, they should be removed from the clerical state (defrocked) immediately. And, yes I will immediately post this same comment on my blog.

This is what is driving me nuts about these scandals. You would think that by now the powers of the church would understand that as horrible as these sex abuse incidents are, the cover-up is worse. I don't mean that in terms of the impact on specific individuals or to in any way minimize the evil of sexual abuse, but by trying to protect themselves (for lets be honest with each other - despite the protests that they are trying to "protect" the church, at this point they are really protecting their own interests) they are doing far more damage to the faith than they seem to acknowledge.

There are however a few hopeful signs. The fact that the Archbishop of Dublin is now prompting those bishops named in the recent inquiry as having been guilty of covering up the abuse there should step down. Alas only one bishop (from Limerick) has taken his advice. I do not understand why it is that these men do not see that to not step down eviscerates their own statements that they want to be part of the solution. I guess the book of proverbs is still true when it says "pride goeth before the fall".

Fr. Tim


I appreciate that O/C asks me to put this issue before the Vatican, but in truth I do not know how I would do that. However I can say from experience that bishops (including my own) do follow this blog, so perhaps this forum might serve to at least start the ball rolling.

The church has to come to understand that the manner in which they have handled these affairs up to now has been insufficient in the eyes of most people, be they Catholic or not and if the church wants to rebuild trust with its members it needs to do more.

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