“Honesty, Healing and Hope in Christ: Confronting Sexual Violence in Our Archdiocese,” is a long overdue archdiocesan outreach to the parish level. It could very well help some Catholics begin to heal and give them hope. My fear is those healing wounds will be ripped open and hope shattered by yet another grand jury report. Pardon my cynicism. I really believed all the right things would be done after the 2005 grand jury report. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
For this to be a success on any level, the hierarchy must get on board with the honesty portion. When asked why it took a second grand jury report to get action, Archbishop Chaput said he wasn’t here, so he won’t comment. Really? The past is the best predictor of the future. How can we possibly change the future without an honest analysis? I suppose that will be left to the civil authorities rather than our moral authority. With two grand jury reports, internal communications and an ongoing trial, there is plenty of reference material. I hope the binder sent to each parish includes that information.
When I asked Archbishop Chaput how he personally would work to restore our hope in the institutional Church, he said he didn’t know. That very honest answer strikes at the core of the problem. The solution needs to come from the top down. Pope Benedict requested that all Bishops craft their recommendations regarding clergy sex abuse. The deadline is this Spring. I would love to read what Bishop Finn compiled. Perhaps it’s time to step outside that collapsing box and look to what Amnesty International, our civil authorities and others who specialize in human rights and justice have recommended. It’s time for the Vatican to act decisively on this global issue.
Seeing Archbishop Chaput witness Msgr. Lynn’s trial during victim testimony would give me hope. Seeing him passionately address the victims who stood outside the archdiocesan building before or after the press conference would have given me hope. Having him admit that the removal of the statute of limitations would protect children in the future would give me hope.
But I guess that’s why it reads, “Hope in Christ.” Who could have hope in the hierarchy? I’ll stick with Christ.
We are left with priests removed from ministry decades after allegations first surfaced. The statutes no longer apply. They can live anywhere. Oh, but they’ll have to check in by phone. I guess our collection basket money also covers the long distance calls from the former Father Sicoli in Sea Isle, across from Play by the Bay playground.
Click here to read: “New program seeks healing for all in wake of sex abuse crisis,” by Lou Baldwin, Catholic News Service, U.S. Catholic, May 8, 2012