As a mother raising her children in the Catholic Church, reading the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing the rampant sexual assault of hundreds of children by Catholic priests nauseates and infuriates me, again.
The initial responses from the Catholic bishops in Illinois apologizing to victims and their families for these hidden, horrid crimes were well meaning. The bishops also explained the improvements the Church adopted since at least 2002 that are intended to prevent and better respond to similar crimes in the future. Some bishops also pointed out that the terrible crimes detailed in the Pennsylvania report are old. This stings. And it ignores a painful reality.
In many cases, the perpetrator priest is dead, but the impacts of violative sex crimes live on in hundreds of thousands of people across the country who had their childhoods stolen and their lives destroyed by the Catholic Church. Their wounds are still raw, and most will never heal. Their pain is compounded when the Church claims it has reformed yet has never revealed its hidden archive of records documenting years of priest abuse. The Church needs to acknowledge and publicly account for every allegation and every crime by opening their secret files to independent review. None of the bishops has offered to do that.
The Catholic Church may have cleaned up, but it has never come clean.