National- “More of the same” at national church abuse panel
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Three new people (from Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana) have been put on the US bishops sex abuse panel. All are Catholic. All have close ties to Catholic schools or universities. None, as best we can tell, show any signs of real courage or independence.
So it's the “same old, same old.”
Originally, a dozen years ago, this National Review Board showed a glimmer of hope. Initially, some of its members were high profile and outspoken individuals who didn't depend on church institutions for their paychecks (such as former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and Illinois Judge Anne Burke). Now, however, it's filled with low key Catholic insiders whose incomes often derive from Catholic institutions and who are clearly quiet and compliant “company men.” They will very likely never utter a single critical word about a single Catholic official, no matter how egregious his misconduct might be or how many kids are hurt on his watch.
Very quickly this so-called “watch dog” became a “lap dog.” It remains a “lap dog.”
Unfortunately, these new appointees (Mary K. Huffman of Centerville, Ohio; Donald J. Schmid of Granger, Indiana, and Nelle Moriarty of Rochester, Minnesota) look to be more of the same.
These men and women give their time and lend their reputations to church officials. But they end up being used as part of a shrewd public relations strategy in which bishops' put respected, sincere lay people on panels, give them inadequate and inaccurate information, and thus shield themselves from criticism when bad decisions are made.
Far too few Catholics on these panels ever become brave “whistleblowers.” And that's one reason why child molesting clerics remain hidden, why kids remain at risk and why the church's horrific clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis continues.
NOTE - Just this week, two Seattle men who were on a local church review board blasted Seattle's archbishop for keeping secret – for a decade – serious allegations against a predator priest.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)