Apparently, Chaput has unilaterally revised the American bishops’ child sex abuse policy. For years, it officially was “one strike and you’re out.” Now, in Philly at least, it’s become “one strike and you’re in.” Chaput is putting Fr. Joseph DiGregorio back on the job, in part, because “no other complaints were reported.”
And on paper, that ten year old policy says nothing about credibly accused predator priests being restored to active ministry if a church shrink says he’s ok. But Chaput has evidently unilaterally made this change too. He’s putting DiGregorio on the job again because, in part, a “clinical evaluation” supposedly says the priest is no threat to children.
Finally, the church’s abuse policy mandates “openness and transparency” in child sex abuse cases. But Chaput won’t “explain how (Fr. DiGregorio) violated behavioral standards,” according to the Inquirer.
So in three ways, Chaput is violating the very church policy he and his brother bishops so often brag about.
It’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might say. For decades, bishops put kids at risk and kept predator in parishes based on their alleged “investigations” and hand-picked psychiatrists’ “approval,” while providing parents and parishioners very little information about the alleged offenses. That’s precisely what Chaput is doing now.
For a brief few years around 2002 and 2003, this changed, thanks to overwhelming public and parishioner pressure. For a short while, most bishops began being a bit more careful. Now, however, the demand for priests is so dire that Chaput and his brother bishops are going back to the olden days and recklessly putting kids in harm’s way and putting predators back in parishes.
Bishops in Miami and Joliet recently make similarly irresponsible moves.
Shame on them.
This case reminds us, yet again, of how crucial it is for Pennsylvania lawmakers to reform the state's archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations. No institution, least of all the Catholic hierarchy, can police itself and effectively deal with child sex abuse reports.