Originally published: March 26, 2010, reviewed today after minor editing.
Let’s suppose that a United Sates Congressman stands accused of sexually molesting a young male page serving that government body. Does saving the face of the institution take precedence over confronting the abuse? Do the leaders of the Congress stage a cover-up giving priority to saving the government from the scandal?
When a school teacher or principal stands accused of sexually molesting a child, do other teachers and administrators rally round the accused, protecting her/him from justice? Does the school system close ranks and move the teacher to another building where the opportunity is fresh and easy?
The Catholic Church of the United States, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland are awash in scandal. The sin of child abuse is grotesquely compounded by the sin of cover-up, of protecting the ordained men who harmed the lives of thousands of children. These ordained men were given the power to absolve the sins of penitents. These ordained men were given the prestige and honor of a sacred position.
Are we not sickened? Does not system-wide obscenity, tacitly condoning child molestation, sicken us enough to break through the silence? Where are we?
The last weeks have shown anger and threats over health care. Demonstrations pro and con are constant. Threats of bodily harm come to Congressmen on both sides of the aisle. This piece of legislation is extremely important and the activism is justified, a reaction to vital issues.
The March 24 issue of the Kansas City Star newspaper has the following front page priority stories: the closing of a coffee plant, a college coach’s photo and story, a population decline story, and a Steve Kraske story on threat made to Congressmen over the health care vote.
Page A 18 of the same issue carries a story from Munich about the abuse scandal cover-up.
In the diocese where I live and worship, the current policy is to investigate every allegation of abuse, even if the accused died years ago. Some monies were reportedly paid and counseling services provided. My experience tells me that every abused life is scarred with deep and horrible pain. It also tells me that the ways of blaming the victim, though often subtle, are alive and well. Families are wedged apart by dealing with abuse.
If the allegations of cover-up by the current Pope are accurate, then what? What of the blind loyalty to church where child abuse scandals have bankrupted diocese, closed parishes and destroyed lives?
In the words of Jesus, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”