We’re used to bishops backpedalling on clergy sex crimes. It’s worrisome, however, when newspapers backpedal on those crimes.
Lately, editors at two big city dailies have made unsettling decision in covering clergy sex cases.
For as long as I can remember (and I’ve been involved in this almost 25 years), virtually every news outlet has named clerics who are accused in civil lawsuits of assaulting kids. Ditto with other defendants who are high profile: coaches, teachers, doctors, politicians and the like. It’s a nearly universal practice and rarely even questioned (except sometimes by friends and relatives of the accused).
Over the past week, here’s a partial list of states where Catholic officials have said "no comment" about clergy sex abuse lawsuits and allegations: Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Illinois.
Dear Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga
Happy anniversary. It was a decade ago next month when you essentially accused Jews of being behind media reports of clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
In the day since the Royal Commission into Child Abuse began, the commission has already received word that at least 5000 people want to give evidence. This is exciting news.
"He's done something unusual/unexpected practically every day." That’s how an anonymous but high ranking Vatican official describes Pope Francis.
We’ve talked a lot since the election of Pope Francis about how he has an enormous duty to protect kids and help prevent future sex abuse. But just because there is a new Pope doesn’t mean we can give church officials who have previously covered up crimes against children any slack.
In one of those amazing moments, we were on the square getting ready to head back up the hill when a reporter rushed up and said come with me. He brought us to meet Francesco Zanardi, a fellow survivor, from Savona.
In his first hours as the new head of the church, Pope Francis made a self-effacing joke, carried his own luggage, rode on a bus, paid his hotel bill and asked his flock to bless him.
Then, he visited Cardinal Bernard Law.
“What’s best for kids, a pope from a developed nation or a developing nation?”
That’s what a journalist asked us today. Her theory was that in developed nations, prelates dealt with abuse more and that their experience would be helpful.
We disagree with both premises.
Experience can be positive, but only if one learns the right lesson from it. No prelate on the planet had dealt more with abuse than Benedict. Yet his experience apparently taught him that little in the church needed to change.
What do we hope to achieve?
We want to educate parishioners and the public about this ongoing crisis, especially regarding the church officials who continue to protect predators and endanger kids, some of whom will pick the next pope, and one of whom may become the next pope.