Thursday, March 6, 2014

Editorial: Francis, you must meet victims of clergy abuse | National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Francis, you must meet victims of clergy abuse | National Catholic Reporter:
by the Editorial Staff, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis said the other day:

***"The Catholic church is maybe the only public institution to have moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else has done more. Yet the church is the only one to be attacked."
Those statements contain a certain truth, but they also conceal the more difficult truths that have been embedded in this story since NCR began covering this awful chapter of church history in 1985. We claim a certain authority in addressing the issue because we have been investigating and analyzing the scandal for so long. Countless times we have heard the defense that most abuse of children occurs outside the church and that the church has done more than any other institution to become transparent and aggressive in preventing abuse.
The other side of that truth, Your Holiness, is that no other institution on earth had the means or the will to hide as much crime and sin for so long. The reality is that while the incidents of abuse of children are horrific, the larger and more persistent scandal is how many bishops and cardinals hid the sin, paid victims enormous sums of money to stay silent and refused to tell even their fellow bishops and priests of potential problems when they transferred troubled priests.
The church has done probably more than any other institution to institute norms and procedures for preventing abuse in the future. But the other side of that truth is that for decades, church leaders denied that there was any problem, they lied about the numbers of people involved and fought, at enormous expense, disclosure of the dimensions of the problem. Not one of them has yet been held to account. Today there are bishops in place who have betrayed their own conferences’ directions on how to handle abuse cases. If the church is doing more now than any other institution to protect children it is only because of enormous public pressure brought about by victims and others within the church demanding the truth. And the record shows that church leaders can be less than diligent in applying the new standards.
You appeal to us to go to the margins and you have given us examples yourself of what you mean. You have also placed a high value on dialogue, and it is in that spirit that we suggest that among the most marginalized in the church are those who have been abused by priests.***

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