Many victims but little justice
posted at 4/11/2012 10:58 AM EDT
Although some anti-Roman Catholic zealots disparage their efforts, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is continuing its program to stop sex abuse of children that has been associated with Roman Catholic churches, schools, dioceses and orders and to report on instances of abuse that have been discovered. Its efforts in that cause appear stronger than those of most other organizations that work with young people, but the intensity of its problems may also be worse. [ Andrew Stern, Reuters, Catholic Church says child abuse cases rose in 2011, Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2012, at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-catholic-abusebre8391hf-20120410,0,1575130.story ]
Dimensions of problems in the U.S. were measured last year in a report commissioned by the Conference, partly funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and by other Catholic organizations, performed by a team at CCNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and released in May, 2011. [ available from the Conference at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/reports-and-research.cfm under the title, "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010" ]
Boston is about to see another episode in the long-running scandal that began to be publicized by the Boston Globe in January, 2002. The third sentence of the first of many Globe reports said, "...Cardinal Bernard F. Law knew about Geoghan's problems in 1984...yet approved his transfer to St. Julia's parish in Weston." [ Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Rezendes and Walter V. Robinson, Church allowed abuse by priest for years, January 6, 2002, at http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories/010602_geoghan.htm ]
Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who typically has pressed the Boston diocese harder over the years than has law enforcement, is about to describe two more former priests who he says were predators. [ Lisa Wangsness, Settlements are reached in clergy sex abuse cases, Boston Globe, April 11, 2012, at http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/04/11/settlements-reached-clergy-sex-abuse-cases/xG5UUaU0CmTK7DFWgxVU2J/story.html ]
The instances being detailed by Mr. Garabedian are probably not counted among "489 people [who] reported credible allegations of abuse by priests or deacons in 2011," as listed by the Conference, since Conference information is coming from Church officials. Terrence C. Donilon, employed as secretary for communications by the Boston diocese, is reported as stating that "archdiocesan investigations were inconclusive because both involved a single victim who professed to have been abused more than 40 years ago by a priest who died before he could answer the allegations."
There are many avenues to conduct thorough investigations, but the Boston diocese and its neighbors in Fall River, Springfield, Worcester, Providence, Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Manchester have all tended to offer repeated excuses as to how nothing could be done. In the case of Cardinal Law, clearly implicated in abuses by the late, former Rev. John J. Geoghan, little was ever done by law enforcement to hold either the cardinal or the other supervisors of the diocese accountable for child endangerment. Cardinal Law has now quietly retired as pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. [ Sarah Delaney, Catholic News Service, Vatican replaces Cardinal Law as archpriest of Rome basilica, National Catholic Reporter, November 21, 2011, at http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-replaces-cardinal-law-archpriest-rome-basilica ]