Opinion: Pull back the curtain of secrecy on abuse by priests

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is now a "minor basilica." It is clear that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is excited and proud, and it is clear that he welcomed members of the news media into the cathedral (now basilica) space on Aug. 15 so he could talk about ceremonial bells and special privileges.

This openness to the press is a dramatic shift.

Two years ago, Archbishop Schnurr was considerably less welcoming of the media into St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its first Mass for Healing for the Church and for Victims of Abuse. On that occasion, reporters were kept outside the church and could not bear witness to the history inside when the archbishop suspended the Mass as church ushers escorted a family member of a survivor of clergy abuse out of the church who had spoken out in anguish.

The news media could not see Archbishop Schnurr, as he stood silent at the podium, offering no acknowledgement of the man’s pain, no words of condolence or peace, and no prayer – just a "sorry for the interruption" and then resuming the liturgy. 

What a juxtaposition!

Speak up and seek out publicity for recognition of the buildings, ritual and orthodoxy.  Celebrate the buildings and the structure and the institutional art and history. 

Speak sparsely or not at all when the issue is pastoral needs of victims or questions from those Catholics who are so bold as to continue to seek accountability and transparency about abusive clergy.

As we approach another milestone of pain and suffering this week – it has been one year since the indictment and arrest of Rev. Geoff Drew – one can only wonder what remains under layers of secrecy, the figurative church architecture that hides anguish and pain of unheard and dismissed stories from other families touched by abusive priests' behaviors.

It is time. Pull back the curtain of secrecy, let the media in to see and hear and report. Let’s not have any more "meetings with parishioners only" when allegations come to light. Instead, we implore Archbishop Schnurr to let the light of truth shine through the cameras of the media!

Maybe, just maybe, we can begin to see our way back to the real core beauty of the Catholic faith – that which is found not in the buildings, ritual, or art history, but reflected in the beautiful souls of those who seek justice and act with compassion.

A reminder for media: the third annual day of "Prayer for the Church and for Victims of Abuse" is scheduled for Sept. 11. Archbishop Schnurr will be presiding at the 11:30 a.m. liturgy at St. Peter in Chains Basilica.

Loveland resident Kathy Weyer is president of the Greater Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful Coordinating Commi...

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