February 19, 2005

Shroud of secrecy exacerbates diocesan problems

YAKIMA (WA)
Yakima Herald-Republic

Evidence continues to mount that the Catholic Diocese of Yakima has a PR problem, only in this case that abbreviation means "parishioner relations."
That's a shame, because if ever there was a lesson that should have been learned as church officials nationwide dealt with the tragedy of sex abuse by priests, it was the crucial need for more open communication and dialogue in dealing with the sensitive issue.

A penchant for secrecy as church officials wrestled with the national scandal only magnified the problem, because it was secrecy that allowed the abuse to flourish for so many years. Abusive priests too often were simply transferred to other parishes, where they resumed their preying ways.

A couple of recent developments would indicate that lesson still seems lost on local church officials.

When a group went to diocesan headquarters Wednesday to serve Bishop Carlos Sevilla with court documents related to the latest lawsuit alleging abuse by a priest years ago, all the offices were empty. Admittedly, it was a media event the press had been tipped to show up for the serving of papers but the fact that no one was there to meet with them or address the allegations was more ammunition for some to charge that the diocese continues to "not be there" for parishioners on this thorny issue.

Posted by kshaw at February 19, 2005 05:46 AM