The REAL reason behind church abuse protocols

By David Clohessy

Every single day, I try my best to read – or at least skim – every single article about clergy abuse I can find. One reason is because of guys like Fr. Anthony Daly, a Jesuit.

And I try even harder to read the smaller or more obscure new sources. One reason is because of stories like the one I recently saw in the St. Louis University News. There I found a statement by Fr. Daly that’s very telling.


Fr. Daly confirmed that each year he takes (an abuse) exam (from his religious order).

“Every year I’ve got to do [the exam] so that if someone sues our order, the settlement will be less.”


Catholic officials have long claimed their abuse policies, procedures and protocols are well-intentioned. We disagree.

They claim the policies are about “helping” victims and “preventing” abuse.

We say they’re about smart public relations and legal defense.

And Fr. Daly’s comment proves our point.


Look at some of the parts of the “Dallas Charter” and ask yourself “Who really benefits from this?”

-- They set up one person in each diocese to handle abuse reports. This makes dioceses look good. But ask yourselves: is this genuine reform, or simply savvy PR and simple efficiency? (And ask yourselves: did any mom or dad try to report the abuse of his or her child but give up because the diocese had no “point person” designated to handle abuse.)

-- They’ll talk of fingerprinting/background checks of staff. But most church officials conceal clergy sex crimes so predator priests rarely have convictions on their records. And this doesn’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops with limitless power.

-- They set up review boards, but these panels are entirely handpicked by bishops, made up almost always of just Catholics, have no real power, can only make recommendations, and get almost all of their information from the same chancery staff who have concealed and are concealing pedophile priests. And again, these committees don’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops with limitless power that is often abused.

-- They talk of training kids & volunteers. But of course this doesn’t address the core issue: corrupt, callous bishops. And other groups that deal with kids did this decades ago. And actions speak louder than words, so all the workbooks and talk and training sessions have little impact when the church hierarchy remains secretive, reckless, & unresponsive.

-- They talk of ‘codes of conduct’ that employees must now sign saying “I won’t abuse.” But these are, of course, utterly meaningless. (Is there a child molesting cleric anywhere who pondered molesting a kid, realized he or she had never signed a pledge to NOT molest, so opted to go ahead and molest?)

So here’s a “thank you” to Fr. Andrew Daly who publicly confirms what we’ve long said: the actions church officials take about abuse and cover up are really about legal defense, not real reform.

Showing 3 comments

  • John M Shuster
    commented 2016-01-20 09:46:13 -0600
    People tend to think that a system of cover-up, moving and hiding predatory clergy, finding and managing victims of clergy sexual assaults, mounting strong legal defenses against lawsuits and employing PR firms to minimize public outrage are RESPONSES to clergy sexual assaults. I want to present an alternative perspective. I think that clergy sexual assaults do and will continue to happen because these apparently reactive actions by church leaders are PURPOSEFULLY INSTITUTIONALIZED. They are a cohesive system of actions that have been standardized by the institution. They are not actions that are meant to prevent further assaults but part of a system to purposely allow them to continue in a way that does not prompt societal condemnation, legal prosecutions and dismantling of the church sponsoring the sex crimes. These institutionalized sexual assaults continuously threaten public safety and well-being. It is a system that permits violent assaults to continue because the abuse has gone on for so long that it has become part of clerical culture and is internally constitutive to what it is to be clergy and religious in the church.
  • Gloria Sullivan
    commented 2016-01-19 12:02:44 -0600
    30 years,agoI taught CCD & had to sign a. paper re: sexual abuse. I wondered at the time, are they having problems? I hadn’t
    heard of any thing & thought they were being over cautious. Ha Ha, little did I know then, how much they were hiding and trying to cover their butts.
  • @ tweeted this page. 2016-01-18 19:53:29 -0600

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