MA - Two US Catholic Cardinals contradict one another on ‘zero tolerance’
The top Catholic prelates of Boston and Chicago apparently disagree on whether or not “zero tolerance” for predators is or is not the world-wide policy of the church.
Cardinal Francis George claims it is. Yesterday, he told reporters in Rome that zero tolerance is now “the universal law of the church.”
But hours later, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston told The Wall Street Journal that “making sure that measures aimed at combating sexual abuse by clerics get enforced across Catholicism's global sprawl will be a "monumental task" for the next pope.
"The Holy See is going to have to mandate these into polices, “ O’Malley said, and “would be reviewing the thicket of guidelines developed by national bishops conferences around the world.”
The Journal also noted that “In recent years, these conferences have scrambled to get guidelines in place. Bishops in Italy and Germany created their own policies only after hundreds of people had come already forward across Europe to report allegations of sex abuse.”
"What needs to be done now is that all those policies need to be reviewed in a very careful way," O'Malley acknowledged.
It can’t be both ways. There’s either a global Catholic abuse policy of zero tolerance or there’s not.
Who’s right? O’Malley is, on two fronts.
First, a simple google search proves that Pope Benedict has asked that each bishop have an abuse policy. We see no evidence, however, that the pope insisted on “zero tolerance” be a part of these policies.
And O’Malley’s right, the key is enforcement. And this is, indeed, a “monumental task.”
Since the early 1990s, most US dioceses have had abuse policies. The trouble is that they’re usually honored in the breach. And why wouldn’t they be, since there is no enforcement in reality and no enforcement mechanism on paper.
Based on 25 years of experience, we can confidently say that these formal church abuse policies – at the diocesan, national, and perhaps someday at the global level - are much more about protecting the church hierarchy’s reputation and insurance coverage and legal position than about protecting kids.
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.