Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tom Doyle on the Catholic Clerical Sexual Abuse Situation: Bishops' Response Is Convincing on Paper, Hollow and Hypocritcal in Reality

This is from the latest installment of Fr. Tom Doyle's ongoing series entitled "Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church," in Voice of the Faithful's newsletter In the Vineyard.  I last posted an excerpt from this series on 24 September.  Here, Fr. Doyle is talking about the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the American Catholic bishops following their establishment of a National Review Board to handle the sexual abuse crisis after the media exposed the depths of this problem in the American Catholic church in 2002:

What they left out of their self-congratulatory rhetoric is the fact that every step taken by the bishops including boards, procedures, policies and purges of suspected clerics, was the result of direct, powerful pressure from the media, the courts, the outraged public and most important, the survivors. Had there been no Boston revelations, no civil suits or no embarrassing media coverage the bishops, regardless of the mound of undisputed information staring them in the face, would have done nothing. The plight of sex abuse victims in 2010 would differ little from their plight in 1960.

The bishops’ commitment to healing and the safety of children sounds convincing on paper and in their articulate and well-crafted rhetoric. It is however, hollow and hypocritical. Their individual and collective actions rob their words of any credibility. The depth of concern for victims’ welfare is proclaimed more by the destructive and frustrating tactics employed in civil suits than in their empty promises. Their pledge that children will be safe today and in the future is trampled under by their ruthless and costly efforts to defeat any State legislation that would protect children.

And this historical background, which faithful Catholics in the U.S. forget at their peril, is why I remain extremley skeptical about the image-management move represented now by the election of Timothy Dolan as head of the USCCB.  The problems go far deeper than image management and spin control attempt to make us think.  And they won't be resolved until the bishops aim at real accountability and real transparency--both of which they intend to keep dodging at all costs.

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