Despite a decade of vigorous public relations, a new survey shows that most Catholics don’t believe their bishops are “reforming” how they deal with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
In what must be sobering news for the Catholic hierarchy, the survey, conducted by US Catholic magazine of its readers, finds that
-- only one third say Catholic parishes and schools are now safer for children,
-- almost 60 % say church leaders have “done the bare minimum and should be doing much more,”
-- barely half of the respondents say bishops are less likely to cover up abuse cases today than in the past
-- 76% believe that “those who should get credit for the church’s reform after the sex abuse crisis include “victim advocacy groups, such as SNAP” and
-- 44% say they were abused or know someone who was abused by a priest.
US Catholic writes:
“When it comes to the church’s willingness to report accusations of sexual abuse to authorities, respondents credit pressure from outside sources—not a change in attitudes by the bishops—for improvements made since 2002.
“Eighty percent say there is still a lack of transparency on the part of church leaders in handling sexual abuse cases. As evidence, several readers point to the case of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, who is facing criminal charges for failure to report to civil authorities a priest in his diocese who was in possession of child pornography.”
We are grateful that so many parishioners understand the difference between real change and public relations. We hope this survey will prod at least a few Catholic officials to move beyond the “bare minimum” and immediately report knowledge and suspicions of child sex crimes and cover ups to law enforcement and aggressively seek out other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. We hope it will also prod even one bishop to – for the safety of kids - permanently and prominently post on his website the names, photos and whereabouts of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.