In a recent op-ed for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, clergy abuse survivor Mark Crawford asks how it can be that the federal government can take action (after years of looking the other way) against GM for hiding information about a defective switch that placed people's lives at risk, while it cannot muster the will to act when powerful religious (and other) institutions endanger children and employ lies and silence to protect themselves. Crawford writes,
For years, we have learned of similar dangerous and irresponsible actions by large and powerful institutions, such as the Boy Scouts of America, Penn State University, the Horace Mann School, Yeshiva University, the American Boy Choir School and the Roman Catholic Church. These institutions put self-interest and self-preservation before the need for children to be safe from known sexual predators. Many lives have been devastated by these deliberate actions and some, unable to cope with the overwhelming damage, have tragically taken their own lives.
I call on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to vigorously investigate the actions of religious and charitable institutions for their criminal attempts to conceal and minimize dangerous predators — actions that included the sexual abuse of children in this country. Ireland, Spain, Australia, Canada, Germany, Chile and several other European countries have done just that, to uncover the extent and impact of child sexual abuse upon the people of their country.
Accountability and consequences are long overdue. Such an investigation will bring with it the impetus for real change and reform within these institutions, which will lead to a healthier and safer society for all.
What Mark Crawford is saying in this editorial statement echoes (for me) what Jerry Slevin has long been saying at his Christian Catholicism blog site and elsewhere: namely, that the best hope all of us who want to see the abuse crisis in the Catholic church resolved effectively have is to press our governments to take direct action to make Catholic leaders accountable in matters of children's safety. For a recent statement of Jerry's thinking in this regard, see this posting at his website on Francis, the double canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, and children.