At least 11 clerics who worked at schools in the Seattle archdiocese are publicly and credibly accused child molesters. We suspect the real number is much higher.
They hurt kids in the Seattle archdiocese. Those kids’ parents belong to the Seattle archdiocese. Those moms and dads have donated to the Seattle archdiocese. They attended or attend parishes in the Seattle archdiocese, parishes that are run by the Seattle archdiocese.
Yet Seattle archdiocesan staff – from the archbishop on down – have done little, if anything, to help warn other families about or protect other kids from these child molesting clerics.
Why? Because the clerics’ paychecks are not signed by the Seattle archdiocese. They’re signed by another Catholic entity, the Christian Brothers.
The Christian Brothers, however, operate in the Seattle archdiocese with the explicit permission of the Seattle archdiocese, specifically, the head of the archdiocese, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain.
In other words, it’s just hairsplitting when Seattle archdiocesan officials dodge and deflect responsibility for these child molesting clerics. It’s disingenuous. It’s misleading. It’s irresponsible. Sadly, however, it’s typical of how bishops have protected themselves and distanced themselves for years from horrific child sex crimes and cover ups taking place in their jurisdictions.
And it flies in the face of Catholic tradition, history, teaching and practice, which holds that a bishop is responsible for the safety and well being of all Catholics in his diocese. His job is to protect them, not just from priests who are directly paid by him, but other Catholic entities too.
It should go without saying, but it’s equally devastating whether a child is sexually assaulted by a diocesan priest or a Notre Dame nun or a Marian seminarian or a Christian brother. Each one is in the diocese, and has access to kids in the diocese, because of the head of the diocese – the bishop.
Some bishops will tell a religious order to stay out of their dioceses. (Several did this with the Legion of Christ.)
Some bishops will put some restrictions on a religious order in their dioceses.
Some bishops will denounce religious order clerics. (For instance, some conservative bishops speak out publicly when Jesuit universities invite liberal or feminist speakers.)
So come on Archbishop. Show some leadership. Show some compassion and courage. Let your flock know who and where these child molesting clerics are. Go to any parishes where they worked - even for one weekend. Beg their victims to come forward and get help. Urge them to call police and prosecutors.
In this new year, chart a new course, a course of responsible action, not irresponsible inaction.