In a new interview with the Chicago Tribune, Cardinal George says that Cardinals are ‘vetting’ one another on abuse and cover up. If he is correct about this – and we hope he is – we are encouraged. But such vetting should go beyond just likely papal candidates. It should be vigorously expanded to include all church officials.
If any cardinal is willing, and to the degree we are able, we’d be glad to help in any way.
George is wrong, however, when he claims that church officials must continue dealing with abuse because of victims. They must take prompt, effective action because of children. They are still being sexually violated, right now, across the globe. Even if George thinks victims are being treated well (and many are not), surely he knows that kids still need and deserve real protection from predatory priests.
In fact, we’re stunned that he said this week that “the incidence of abuse is practically zero right now.”
In all but a handful of western nations, little is known about clergy sex crimes. It’s sadly quite easy, in most countries, to guilt-trip and intimidate victims in to staying silent and prevent them from taking legal action. In many cultures and countries, it’s very hard to talk publicly of painful personal subjects. So it’s a struggle to find solid information on how church officials across the globe mishandle clergy sex abuse cases.
But just because vetting papabile is tough doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t happen. If it doesn’t, kids won’t be protected and crimes won’t be prevented.
Finally, instead of talking about ‘zero tolerance’ in Rome, George should practice ‘zero tolerance;’ in Chicago. The Fr. Kenneth Martin and Fr. Daniel McCormack cases, among others, prove that George still refuses to adequately safeguard his flock from credibly accused child molesting clerics.