Ten years ago this month, the scandal concerning the sexual abuse of children by Boston Catholic clergy was revealed by the Boston Globe. The revelations contained in the newspaper’s reporting sent shockwaves throughout the Boston Catholic community. The shockwaves have continued to be felt in the national Church, indeed throughout the entire Catholic Church. Like many Catholics, I was very angry; I felt betrayed by the very men I had believed were suppose to look after their faith communities, to be caring shepherds. Instead, I saw bishops more concerned with covering up the scandal, to protect the image of the Church. Anybody in public life could have told them that what really upsets people is not the crime, but the cover-up of the crime. The scandal was a pressure cooker, waiting to explode; and because it was ignored by the bishops, it did.
Despite my anger, I have never considered leaving the Church, or cutting back my involvement in the life of my parish. Maybe it was because of my years of formation with other seminarians, who I came to love and respect. Maybe, it was because of my knowledge of Church history, and experience within the institution; I have known the Church to be both very holy, and unfortunately, very human. But, mostly, it has been my own encounter with Christ, and where those encounters have been, that have kept me in the Church.
The effects of the scandal are still with us. I cannot tell you how many CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) release forms I have had to sign because I am both a parish volunteer and a Candidate for the Permanent Diaconate. The measures taken to pay compensation to the victims are still controversial. There is still a tug of war between those who want of the names of all accused priests released, and those who believe a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. The guidelines to handle sex abuse cases, written by the
bishops, have not been followed by all bishops (Incidents in the Philadelphia and dioceses come to mind). This wound is going to be with us for a very
long time. Kansas
One bishop who is working to heal that wound has been Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston. He was recently interviewed by John Allen, Jr., a reporter for the National Catholic Reporter. The link is here.