Rome--It’s happened again today in Rome.
For immediate release: Friday, May 8, 2015
It’s happened again today in Rome.
Some Catholic commentators will no doubt herald this latest tweaking as something big. It’s not. Maybe in other realms of church life, policies like this matter. In abuse and cover up cases, they do not.
Those who break church policies in child sex cases never really suffer consequences. So church decision-makers routinely ignore church policies. It’s irrational to expect otherwise.
Nearly every Catholic figure always has and still does act in nearly every case with one guiding principal: “What gets me out of this with as little time, disclosure and embarrassment as possible?”
Based on observing their behavior for 26 years, we see little evidence that church officials ask themselves: “What am I required to do, according to secular and church rules?”
The word that matters most here is “advisory”. Vatican officials are making it clear that the pope’s abuse panel has no teeth. All it can do is “advise”. As always, decisions about clerics who commit and conceal child sex crimes will remain with their clerical colleagues.
Consider this: There are more than 4,000 bishops on earth. Not one of them could summon the strength to publicly criticize – let alone take action against – even one of their complicit colleagues, not even convicted Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. No refining of words on paper will change this timid, self-serving clerical culture.
Today’s tweaking is signature Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Here’s what O’Malley virtually always does: say nice things in public, make symbolic gestures, hold healing masses, meet with a few victims, settle abuse and cover up lawsuits, and tweak nearly meaningless internal church abuse policies, then claim ‘a new day has dawned’. He makes smart financial and public relations moves while pretending they’re substantive reforms.
Here’s what O’Malley virtually never does: denounce, discipline or demote enablers, publicly release secret files, turn over abuse records to prosecutors, reform predator-friendly secular laws or take any meaningful steps that would stop current clergy sex crimes or prevent future cover ups.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)