Saturday, December 22, 2018

Headlines to Read Side by Side: Pope Tells Abusive Priests to Turn Themselves in to Criminal Authorities; Police Are Enabling Rampant Abuse in ICE Shelters

Bill Chappell, "Pope Francis Tells Abusive Priests And Bishops To Turn Themselves In"

Michael Grabell, Topher Sanders, and Silvina Sterin Pensel, "Police Are Enabling Rampant Abuse in Immigrant Children's Shelters"

Two headlines from yesterday that should, I think, be read side by side. The pope is telling abusive priests and bishops to turn themselves in to criminal authorities, since the church cannot, he insists, police itself and solve the problem of abusive priests and complicit bishops without help from outside authorities.

At the same time, reports are coming out that young people detained in detention camps by ICE are being sexually abused by those running these camps, and when they report the abuse to the police, the police turn a blind eye. 

Pope Francis says that the church itself can't solve the problem of abusive priests and needs the assistance of the criminal and legal system (though I seem to recall how quickly and decisively the church was able to act when Bishop Bill Morris in Australia proposed keeping open the question of women's ordination for further discussion, and when it wanted to target U.S. nuns and bully Sisters Elizabeth Johnson and Margaret Farley, and when it wanted to silence over 100 much-needed theologians under St. John Paul the Great, and when it wants to fire any lay employee who marries someone of the same sex or supports same-sex marriage).

We're being told that the church can't police itself and needs the police to do the policing. But in report after report from the abuse crisis, we learn that survivors who did go to the police when they were molested as minors quite frequently got no help at all — as with the school for the deaf in Milwaukee where Father Lawrence Murphy abused countless numbers of deaf boys. Quite the contrary: the police brought the minors who came to them reporting abuse right back to that facility and handed them back to their abusers.

Many survivors of sexual abuse by priests have found the police just as unwilling to protect them in the past as young people who say they are being sexually molested in ICE detention camps today.

If the church won't police itself and if the police frequently fail to police the church, to whom will vulnerable people abused by pastoral figures turn for protection and assistance?

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