Wineke: Ongoing Chuch Abuse Scandal Continues To Unfold

By Bill Wineke Special To Channel 3000

And while we were preoccupied in Madison …

A grand jury in Philadelphia indicted a high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, charging him with endangering the safety of children by moving predator priests around the diocese.

The archdiocese responded by suspending 21 priests from active ministry in the Philadelphia area.

Is this sordid story never going to end?

The story of the church and the sexual abuse of children has been recurring since at least 1992 and bishops have repeatedly expressed their shock and announced ever more dramatic programs to protect kids.

A decade later, in 2002, Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in disgrace after court records showed he continually protected priests who had raped kids. Had he been in any other profession, would surely have been arrested. As it was, Vatican assigned him to a luxurious parish in Rome, where he continues to set policy for the church.

Now, Monsignor William Lynn, former Secretary for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is under indictment.

Now, here’s what strikes me: All along the way, church officials have assured us that the abuse took place decades earlier and that new policies are in place and that they are really, really sorry.

The Philadelphia crimes took place about a decade ago ? long after the scandals were making front-page news. And, in Philadelphia, at least, those committing them were on the job until a couple of weeks ago.

You can read the grand jury report in its entirety at a website but here is a summary:

?The rapist priests we accuse were well known to the Secretary of the Clergy but he cloaked their conduct and put them in place to do it again. The procedures implemented by the Archdiocese to help the victims are, in fact, designed to help the abusers and the Archdiocese itself. Worst of all, apparent abusers ? dozens of them, we believe ? remain on duty in the Archdiocese today with open access to young persons.?

It’s not that the church didn’t respond to complaints from people who were abused. Its victim advocates interviewed, asked them all sorts of personal questions, assured them of confidentiality ? and then gave their statements to diocesan lawyers for use in protecting the church.

There are heroes in this sordid tale. One is a local priest. The Rev. Thomas Doyle, originally of Spring Green, who, in 1985, worked for the Vatican’s Washington office and prepared a report warning that clergy sexual abuse would become a major problem for the church.

The church, basically, banished him. Doyle ended up being a military chaplain and, in 2004, was fired even from that job.

Now, in 2011, we read a grand jury report that asserts ?We would have assumed that by the year 2011, after all the revelations both here and around the world, that the church would not risk its youth by leaving them in the presence of priets subject to substantial evidence of abuse. This is not the case.. .? The grand jury said 37 priests with current allegations of abuse were still wearing collars.

I’ve argued for a long time that the problem isn’t priests who abuse. I’ve never seen evidence a Roman Catholic priest is any more likely to rape a kid than is, say, a school teacher. I’ve argued the problem is bishops who cover up the crimes.

But, now I’m beginning to wonder if the problem isn’t deeper than that. Don’t innocent clergy and rank and file pew-sitters bear some responsibility for what is done in their names?