The REAL reason behind church abuse protocols
By David Clohessy
Every single day, I try my best to read – or at least skim – every single article about clergy abuse I can find. One reason is because of guys like Fr. Anthony Daly, a Jesuit.
And I try even harder to read the smaller or more obscure new sources. One reason is because of stories like the one I recently saw in the St. Louis University News. There I found a statement by Fr. Daly that’s very telling.
WHAT HE SAID
Fr. Daly confirmed that each year he takes (an abuse) exam (from his religious order).
“Every year I’ve got to do [the exam] so that if someone sues our order, the settlement will be less.”
WHY IT MATTERS:
Catholic officials have long claimed their abuse policies, procedures and protocols are well-intentioned. We disagree.
They claim the policies are about “helping” victims and “preventing” abuse.
We say they’re about smart public relations and legal defense.
And Fr. Daly’s comment proves our point.
LET’S GET SPECIFIC
Look at some of the parts of the “Dallas Charter” and ask yourself “Who really benefits from this?”
-- They set up one person in each diocese to handle abuse reports. This makes dioceses look good. But ask yourselves: is this genuine reform, or simply savvy PR and simple efficiency? (And ask yourselves: did any mom or dad try to report the abuse of his or her child but give up because the diocese had no “point person” designated to handle abuse.)
-- They’ll talk of fingerprinting/background checks of staff. But most church officials conceal clergy sex crimes so predator priests rarely have convictions on their records. And this doesn’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops with limitless power.
-- They set up review boards, but these panels are entirely handpicked by bishops, made up almost always of just Catholics, have no real power, can only make recommendations, and get almost all of their information from the same chancery staff who have concealed and are concealing pedophile priests. And again, these committees don’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops with limitless power that is often abused.
-- They talk of training kids & volunteers. But of course this doesn’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops. And other groups that deal with kids did this decades ago. And actions speak louder than words, so all the workbooks and talk and training sessions have little impact when the church hierarchy remains secretive, reckless, & unresponsive.
-- They talk of ‘codes of conduct’ that employees must now sign saying “I won’t abuse.” But these are, of course, utterly meaningless. (Is there a child molesting cleric anywhere who pondered molesting a kid, realized he or she had never signed a pledge to NOT molest, so opted to go ahead and molest?)
So here’s a “thank you” to Fr. Andrew Daly who publicly confirms what we’ve long said: the actions church officials take about abuse and cover up are really about legal defense, not real reform.
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.