Over the past week, here’s a partial list of states where Catholic officials have said "no comment" about clergy sex abuse lawsuits and allegations: Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Illinois.
Whatever happened to the much-touted pledges by America's bishops to be "open and transparent" about clergy sex crimes? (And a related question: why does the Catholic hierarchy spend so much on public relations if their public relations people are just going to say “no comment” time and time again?)
This increasing silence is yet another of the many clear signs that the church hierarchy is moving backwards, not forwards, and is reneging on promises made under the hot glare of parishioner outrage and media attention that began back in 2002.
Perhaps, however, we should be grateful when Catholic bureaucrats say "no comment," because often, when they DO comment, they rub even more salt into the deep and fresh wounds of victims and Catholics.
In my town, the archdiocese recently announced that Fr. Leroy Valentine has been “permanently removed from active ministry,” some 31 years after the first child sex allegations against him surfaced.
But in that announcement, they
-- twice mentioned Valentine's self-professed "innocence"
-- didn't mention they had settled numerous lawsuits involving Fr. Valentine, and
-- said he’s being ousted now because of a "recent" credible allegation (which of course means that they do NOT consider “credible” the four or five earlier victims of Fr. Valentine, including three brothers he assaulted, each of whom was paid $20,000).
If Catholic prelates can’t even talk about clergy sex crimes – or can’t do so with accuracy and sensitivity – what are the chances they’re actually trying to do better with clergy sex crimes?
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.